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TIME OF THIN BLOOD

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Marvin Jenkins was in that annoying state at the border of
sleep where he felt like a man in a broken elevator: His head
would droop and his mind sink away, only to be jerked back
up into consciousness a second later, and then he would sink
again, and jerk awake again. This was no good — he still had
three hours to go on his shift. Time for another coffee.
He stretched and yawned, picking up his coffee mug.
It left a tawny ring on the desk calendar. StarBrite Motel,
the calendar proclaimed, as did the mug and half the things
in the lobby, including the magazines. The remainder of
his last cup of coffee had turned into a brown sludge at the
bottom. He sloshed it around in distaste. He didn’t want to
be hyper later. Maybe what he needed was some air.
He had started to heave his middle-aged body out of
the chair when an obnoxious, piercing beep from the little
speaker in front of him signaled a customer wanting in. He
rolled forward and squinted to see through the plate-glass
window. A young couple stood there, overnight bags in
hand. He buzzed them in. They opened the door; an icy
breeze rushed past them and stirred the things on the desk.
Marvin held up a preemptive hand.
“We’re all booked up,” he said. “Sorry.”
Neither of them seemed especially surprised at the news,
but they exchanged glances and pushed inside anyway. The
young man came forward, dropping his duffel bag on the
desk with a thunk. He was a skinny kid, nerd type. His parka
nearly swallowed him whole.
“Didn’t you see the sign?”
“Yeah, I saw the sign,” the kid answered, brows coming
together slightly in annoyance. “But listen, we’ve been all
up and down the row, and nobody has anything.”
“You picked the wrong weekend.”
“I know. Actually, I didn’t pick it, but—” the young
man glanced at his companion. She said nothing, staring
out into the night through the transparent walls of the
little receptionist’s vestibule. Peering, actually, and shifting
around, as if looking for somebody. Somebody she’d rather
not run into. Marvin frowned.
“You know,” the kid finished lamely. “Anyway, we were just
hoping somebody might have canceled, or checked out.”
“Yeah, checking out at four A.M. I’m afraid not.”
UNTO US A
CHILD IS BORN
PRELUDE: UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN
3
“Look,” he persisted, “where else are we supposed to
go?”
“You could try on the east side,” Marvin said. “There’s
a La Quinta, a Motel 6 and a Days Inn.”
“But it’s four A.M. You said it yourself. And it’s cold,
and we’re on a motorcycle, and my wife—”
“Really needs a hotel room right now,” the young woman
interrupted in a bell-like voice. She turned around. Pale,
hollow-eyed and stringy-haired, she looked like an addict.
Marvin let his gaze travel down her frame and spotted the
bulge under her puffy, quilted overcoat. She was ripe.
“Shit,” Marvin exhaled.
“See?” the young man exclaimed, taking his consterna-
tion as a sign of surrender.
Marvin felt his heartburn flaring up again as he reached
down into a desk drawer and pulled out a fresh check-in
slip.
“All right. I’ve got a room,” he said reluctantly. “Not
a good room—”
“We’ll take it.”
“Lemme finish. There isn’t a bed in it right now. This
400-pound lady sat on it and broke it, so we had to order
a new one. The toilet doesn’t work too good, either. And
it’s smoking. But seeing as it’s the holidays, and if you really
don’t want to go anyplace else, I’ll let you have it. So you
can’t say there was no room at the inn… you know.” He
offered a weak smile.
“No. We’ll take it. Thank you… thanks so much.”
The kid started scribbling furiously on the slip. The young
woman put a hand over her burgeoning belly and swayed
a little, eyes closed.
“Hey, she’s not gonna drop it right here, is she?”
“No, no,” the kid said, too hastily.
Marvin ignored him and leaned forward, addressing
the girl. “Ma’am. You in labor? Should I call the hospital
for you?”
She just shook her head.
“It’s not time yet,” the young man assured him. “They’re
Braxton-Hicks, we’re pretty sure.”
Marvin wasn’t sure how sure they were, but he shook
his head. “Okay. I’ll get you a couple of roll-aways in a little
bit. They’re better than nothing.”
“Thanks. Really, you have no idea.”
“Oh, I do. I remember when my wife was pregnant.” Mar-
vin’s gaze fell on the young woman’s left hand and couldn’t
help noticing that it was bare. Wife, huh? Oh, well.
“That’s 44 dollars, but since the room is crap, I’ll make
it 30.”
They paid cash. “Merry Christmas,” he said as they
hurriedly picked up their bags.
“Merry Christmas,” they echoed. He handed them the
key and buzzed them out.
* * *
“That was pretty good,” Leila commented as she
struggled up the stairs. “I wasn’t even sure you’d remember
what Braxton-Hicks was.”
“I’m doing good to remember my own name,” Pete said.
His hands shook as he tried to get the key into the lock.
Finally he managed to unlock the door.
The night manager hadn’t been exaggerating. It was a
dismal room. Stripped of its centerpiece, it looked empty,
depressingly boxlike. The rectangle of industrial carpet
normally covered by the bed was a decidedly brighter or-
ange than the rest. An aging radiator hissed in the corner.
The smell of high-tar cigarettes and other less pleasant
substances stuck to every surface. One of the light bulbs
had burned out.
Pete took off his parka and spread it against the wall
so Leila could lie down in something less than hellish dis-
comfort. He added a couple of towels from the bathroom
to pad it further. Then he locked the door, deadbolt and
chain. He looked out the window before pulling the drapes
closed. He didn’t see any headlights, but he knew now from
personal experience that vampires could drive through the
dark without them.
“Hope those roll-aways show up soon,” he said.
“Not too soon.” She was pulling one of the drawers
free of the bureau. At first it wouldn’t come, but she gave
it a good yank and it popped out. She took off her coat and
arranged it inside.
“What’s that for?”
“Well, where else are we going to put it when it comes?
Ohh, I must be close. Feel me, see if I’m close.”
“Jesus.” It was not exactly a job Pete relished, but he’d
done it a few times already. He slowly lowered her to the
floor, reached under the pitifully thin fabric of her God-I’m-
a-whale dress and peeled off her panties. The skin of her
thighs was like ice, leaching warmth away from fingers he’d
thought couldn’t be frozen any stiffer. Pete made a face like
he tasted something bitter.
“Pete. Pete, am I close?”
“How should I know?” he snapped. “Tell me what about
this has been normal.”
“You know what I mean. Am I open?”
“Pretty wide open.” He withdrew his fingers and cleaned
them with a cheap motel washcloth. “Good thing we didn’t
stand around any longer, you really might have dropped it
in there.”
“Bullshit,” she growled. She sat up, hoisting her ungainly
body into a crouch.
“Leila, what are you doing? Lay down, rest, it’s probably
going to be a while.”
“I want to squat.”
“Fine, squat then.” Pete got up and looked out the
window again. Nothing. This would be the worst part, just
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
4
sitting here thinking about everything that could happen.
Behind him, Leila groaned and moved from squatting to
lying and back again. He sat down at the table and smoked
a clove cigarette down to the filter, then another.
“Pete, get over here!” Leila called at last.
“What?”
“Check me again.”
“You’ll have to hold still. Stop rocking. Jesus.”
“What’s the matter?”
“It’s the, whatsit, the sac. Jesus. I can see the sac. Lie
down.”
“I don’t want to—”
“Lie down!”
She shuddered and groaned as a contraction came, her
bony frame tensing, her eyes dilating and going distant. Her
mouth opened slightly; her fangs peeked out beneath her
lips. He took her under the armpits — she felt oddly light,
considering — and propped her back against the wall.
“It’s coming now,” she sighed. “I can really feel it. Pete,
please — help me.”
Pete swallowed to force back the rancid taste rising in
his throat. He’d been steeling himself for this for weeks.
He’d even known that the circumstances would not be
great. But it was only now, in the face of it — his dead-but-
walking lover sprawled on a dirty floor, about to bring into
this world a thing that shouldn’t even exist, and begging
him for help, for fuck’s sake — that he was truly impressed
with his own incompetence. There was no answer to make.
He started babbling.
“Okay, look,” he said. “I don’t care what you say. I’m
calling 911.”
“No! Pete….”
“Leila, baby.” He smoothed her hair back. Her forehead
was already slick with a red sweat. “We have no idea what
we’re doing here. We’re just a couple of stupid kids. I mean,
whatever else you are now, you’re still a stupid kid. And even
if the they’ve never seen anything like this before, they’ve
got to know better than either of us.”
“Pete—”
“I’m doing it. I’m calling.”
“Pete, come back!” She grasped at him as he stood to
go to the phone, but she was in no position to stop him.
“You can’t call,” she protested weakly. “They won’t
understand this….”
“I don’t care.”
“I might be done before they get here!”
He dialed and waited. The line did nothing for a few
seconds. He waited some more. Eventually it started beep-
ing at him. Busy? Could 911 be busy? No, this was a fast
busy signal.
“Even the goddamned phone’s not working!” he growled,
throwing it against the wall. Some of the blood-strength
PRELUDE: UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN
5
Leila had given him kicked in; he didn’t mean for it to, but
it did. The phone crashed into the dingy plaster, scatter-
ing a few flakes then falling to the floor with a clang. The
cord, torn from its socket, lashed around like an adder for
a half-second before coming to rest.
“Did you dial 9 to get out?” Leila asked when it was
over.
He was too far gone even to feel sheepish. It was just
one more blow to his psyche at this point. “No,” he said
stupidly. He went over to the cord and examined it. Sure
enough, it had left its little plastic attachment behind. Wires
trailed out uselessly.
“Then that’s why.” She was actually smiling a little
now.
“Dammit, Leila—”
“Look, Pete.” Her eyes were luminous, bright with exer-
tion and pain. “We don’t need them. For all we know, this
is the first time this has ever happened. Ever in all history.
All it took to make that was you and me.”
“Sex I know how to do,” he complained.
“We’re enough for this too,” she persisted. “So come
on.”
That was the end of that argument. So what if the vam-
pires busted down the door? So what if the manager came
in with the roll-aways and got all pissed? He let himself be
coaxed back, sinking down at her side. There was a new
odor now, the powerful, yeasty smell of birth, mingling with
the other scents of mildew and dust and vampire blood and
Love My Carpet.
“What do you want me to do?” he asked helplessly.
“Help me breathe.”
“Help you breathe?”
“Or whatever! Tell me when to push.”
“I think starting now would be a good time.”
“No, look and tell me when.”
“I’m looking. That bag’s in the way. Should I break it?”
“Don’t. It’ll break itself.”
“What if it doesn’t? Oh. There it goes. Oh, Jesus…
gross.”
She strained horribly. The crown of a tiny head peeped
out. He could see wisps of black hair, the same shade as his.
He thought to himself, it may look like me, but it’s not going
to be like me. At nine months, it’s already tougher. Surviving
in a cold womb, finding its own breath and heartbeat with
no motherly rhythms to measure itself against. Even unborn
it was a hell of a thing, and who knew what it might do
once it was out? He cheered it on mentally. Come on, little
whatever-you-are. Come on out for Daddy. Don’t know what
I’m going to do with you, but let’s get this thing going.
They heard a knock at the door.
He froze. Leila lifted her head, still not quite far enough
along to be oblivious.
“The manager?” she whispered.
Pete shook his head. Could be. Could also be their
death knocking at the door. Either way, nothing could be
done about it.
Then another rapping came at the window, and a voice,
faintly audible through the glass. It was a woman’s voice. He
couldn’t make out the words, but Leila’s senses were tuned
a good deal higher. She listened to it for a minute.
“See who it is,” she said.
“What if it’s one of them?”
“I don’t think it is. Open the door.”
“What about you?”
“I’m fine… need to rest in between anyhow.”
Far be it from him to go against female intuition at
such a time. Pete got up, reluctantly, and opened the door.
A young black woman in a turquoise jogging suit hunkered
at the window outside, shading her eyes, pressing her nose
to the glass. She straightened up immediately.
“Who are you?” he demanded.
“Who do you think?” she replied. He made the classic
mistake for the second time this week and met her swift
glance. She said, “Step aside, honey,” and he felt his feet
shuffling back so she could step past him into the room. A
moment later his body was his own again, but it was too
late.
Leila stared at the stranger; lost to modesty, she made no
attempt to sit up or compose herself. “You’re one of us.”
The woman nodded. “I’m one of us. Thin-blooded, like
you. Outcast, like you.”
Pete instantly felt another surge of adrenaline, but she
didn’t seem intent on doing anything hostile, so he just
stood there and quivered. The woman paced from one end
of the room to the other, looking all around.
“And this is it,” she murmured. “This is what we
saw.”
“What are you talking about?” he snapped.
“This was the vision. We’ve never tried it together
before. We had no idea it would be so much clearer. Pissant
motel room, no bed. Orange carpet. Leak stain in the far
corner.” Her gaze followed the items on her checklist, not-
ing each in turn with the same keen appraisal. “Vampire in
labor. Clueless mortal boyfriend. Even the broken volume
knob on the TV set. This is it.”
“What vision? Leila—”
The woman spun around, went back out the open door
and shouted: “Boys! This is it! Let’s bring in the stuff!”
“What stuff?”
She just smiled over her shoulder and walked away.
Pete ran back to his lover’s side, his brain spinning a
stunted, frantic network of strategies. Moving a woman in
her birthing throes was out of the question. That flimsy
door would never stand up to a gang of the undead. The
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
6
last vampire he’d shot with his pawnshop .38 had actually
laughed. But he had a Zippo in his pocket, and somewhere
in his duffel bag was a can of spray paint.
As he desperately rummaged through it — amazing
how the thing most needed always managed to sink to the
bottom — two men appeared at the door. Easier to tell that
they were of the undead; they were as chalk-white as Leila.
One of them had a bulging grocery bag in his arms. The
other held a baby carrier.
They came in and unloaded their bag onto the floor in
the middle of the room.
“I think we got everything here,” said the older-looking
of the two. “Some formula, just in case. Hot plate to warm
it up. And some chunky beef stew for Daddy — how long’s
it been since your last square meal? You can tear the label
off and cook it right in the can. Baby blanket....”
“I don’t understand,” Pete stammered. Leila was in
the middle of another prodigious contraction, howling and
digging her heels into the carpet. He took her head in his
hands and stroked her damp hair. “I don’t understand, what
are you doing, I don’t understand.”
“These might want to wait a while....” The woman’s imper-
turbable voice wafted in with the cold air. She had a tall stack of
foil-wrapped presents tucked under her outstretched chin. The
men hastened to unburden her. “Sun’s coming up soon. And
we’ll have to hit the road the minute it gets dark again.”
“We?”
“Yes, we. You gonna strap a newborn baby to the back
of a motorcycle in the freezing rain? And go where? I left
this unwrapped.” She dangled a plastic hanger on one fin-
ger. Tiny, footed pajamas drifted on the winter gusts like a
miniature flag. Pink pajamas.
“Who the hell are you?” he snarled, knocking it aside.
She looked at him. Her expression hovered in some
ineffable space between pity and beatitude.
“Santa and his elves,” she said at last. “The Three Wise Men.
The Tooth Fairy. Does it matter? We’re the ones who are here
now. The ones who come at the time when we’re needed.”
She gazed down at Leila, gasping and contorting, at the
birth of a new race and not just of the baby hidden in the
compass of Leila’s belly.
“And it’s time.”


…There will be no mercy for the Clanless…
— The Book of Nod
BY DEAN SHOMSHAK AND SARAH ROARK


CREDITS
Authors: Dean Shomshak and Sarah Roark
Conceptual Design and Development: Justin Achilli
Editor: Ed Hall
Art Director: Richard Thomas
Layout & Typesetting: Pauline Benney
Interior Art: Mike Danza, Vince Locke and Christopher
Shy
Front Cover Art: Guy Davis and Vince Locke
Front & Back Cover Design: Pauline Benney
© 1999 White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduc-
tion without the written permission of the publisher is expressly
forbidden, except for the purposes of reviews, and for blank character
sheets, which may be reproduced for personal use only. White Wolf,
Vampire the Masquerade, Vampire the Dark Ages, Mage the As-
cension and World of Darkness are registered trademarks of White
Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Werewolf the Apocalypse,
Wraith the Oblivion, Changeling the Dreaming, Werewolf the
Wild West, Trinity, Ghouls Fatal Addiction, Year of the Reckoning, Guide to the Camarilla, Guide to the Sabbat
and The Time of Thin Blood are trademarks of White Wolf Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. All characters, names,
places and text herein are copyrighted by White Wolf Publishing, Inc.
The mention of or reference to any company or product in these pages is not a challenge to the trademark or copyright con-
cerned.
This book uses the supernatural for settings, characters and themes. All mystical and supernatural elements are fiction
and intended for entertainment purposes only. Reader discretion is advised.
Check out White Wolf online at
http://www.white-wolf.com; alt.games.whitewolf and rec.games.frp.storyteller
PRINTED IN USA.
SPECIAL THANKS
Mike “Bethor” Tinney, for bringing Spinal Tap to the Sab-
bat in San Fran.
Chris “I’ll Be Outside” McDonough, for giving something
back to the Point’s parking lot.
Fred “Rammstein” Yelk, for the stirring rendition.
Brian “Devil Goat Fire” Glass, for finding deities in Pho-
toshop.
Greg “Malaise” Fountain, for learning the true price of im-
mortality.
Ed “Gumbo” Hall, for bestowing the honorary title on one
so deserving.
And Extra Special Thanks to Anyone Who’s Ever Given
Me A Ride Home as a result of debauchery on my part.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
PRELUDE: UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN 1
INTRODUCTION: THE DARK SEED 10
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED 14
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY 36
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL 70
CHAPTER FOUR: WRITTEN IN RED 92
CHAPTER FIVE: NEW BLOOD 102
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE 114
INTRODUCTION: THE DARK SEED
11
The World of Darkness is a world of giants.
For ages untold, the Kindred have walked that
world, mightiest of the giants. The very eldest of
them are indistinguishable from gods. The weakest of
them can stand against many men. Now safely hidden
behind the veil of human skepticism, they have insinu-
ated themselves into every mortal institution. Cities
swell under their attentive influence to provide ever
more disposable vessels for vampires’ endless thirst.
Although wise mortals and other desperate creatures
fight them every step of the way, they continue to
flourish. Nothing seriously threatens the prominence
of the undead.
Until now.
In their hubris and selfishness, the Kindred have
finally exhausted the eternal Curse of Caine. When
a vampire of the 14th generation attempts to create
another of his kind, he has a substantial chance of fail-
ing; and even should he succeed, his childe will never
be able to sire a childe of her own. Fifteen is the utter
limit. The Final Nights are upon us. We have entered
the Time of Thin Blood.
THE EVE OF
GEHENNA
This book fulfills its title in two different but closely
related ways. First, it describes a setting, the world
into which thin-blooded vampires find themselves
Embraced: Kindred society teetering on the edge
of apocalyptic chaos. Second, it describes the thin-
blooded themselves, giving an explanation of their
nature and role in the World of Darkness as well as
mechanics for creating a thin-blooded character.
INTRODUCTION:
THE DARK SEED
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to con-
found the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty…
— 1 Corinthians 1:27
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
12
What is presented here for your delectation is not
Gehenna itself. Instead, the idea is to push everything
that much closer to the brink, to sound the echoes that
eventually bring the avalanche. This book examines
the millennial hysteria presently gripping the Cainite
race and provides suggestions for chronicles set on the
eve of Gehenna. In other words, it isn’t the end, only
the beginning of the end.
Things fall apart, as the poem says. Peace and
cooperation among the Kindred are historically frag-
ile at best, and it never takes much to make them
crumble. Underneath their rational, cynical façades
and their smug assurances of superiority, the Kindred
are terrified by Noddist prophecy. The Book of Nod
tells them that their time is now short. Moreover, it
tells them that the very least of their kind, the clanless,
thin-blooded masses, will be their undoing. Hemmed
in by their own paranoia, they are ready to lash out at
any scapegoat, to follow any messiah, to resort to any
stratagem. And as omen after omen manifests, things
can only get worse.
THE RAZOR’S EDGE
The thin-blooded, vampires of the 14th and 15th
Generations, are the oblivious instigators of all this
controversy. Their appearance heralds Gehenna.
Their weak blood, which often lacks the potency
even to bear the full Curse of Caine, earns them the
fear and contempt of other Kindred. Their ignorance
of vampire lore and customs makes them strangers
not only to their own kind, but also to themselves.
Worst of all, a few of them bear the dubious gift of
visions. These waking nightmares intimate ancient
mysteries and a dire reckoning to come. Possibly, they
could be of use in averting the doom of the Earth,
but only if the reluctant prophets can survive long
enough to decode them.…
Make no mistake: The last generations are pathetic
weaklings as vampires go. Although, like other clanless,
they can sometimes create their own Disciplines, they
can attain only middling proficiency in any power of
the Blood. Moreover, their diluted vitae can barely
sustain their bodies, to say nothing of fueling super-
natural feats. Their unique abilities are much more
useful for getting them in trouble than out of it. Most
thin-blooded know they aren’t long for the world; hell,
the world isn’t long for the world.
However, a thin-blooded character is also a unique
roleplaying opportunity. Of all the Kindred, the weak-
lings are chronologically and biologically closest to
humankind. Thus, their temptation is commensurately
greater. They walk the razor’s edge: On one side is
the mortal life they haven’t yet had a chance to leave
INTRODUCTION: THE DARK SEED
13
behind; on the other, the Kindred, the deadly and in-
scrutable immortals who hold the secret to their new
existence. Here is a chance to look at undeath with
new, innocent eyes.
Also, despite their outcast status, the thin-blooded
are inextricably linked to the changes taking place
in the World of Darkness. An anarch or autarkis can
remain skulking at the edges of Cainite society for
as long as he wishes; few really care. But many thin-
blooded, whether they like it or not, find themselves
caught up in something far larger than themselves,
simply by virtue of their part in the ancient prophecy.
They have no power, no control, no answers. What
they do have is destiny.
A quick note on vocabulary: Kindred of the clans
often use the word vagrants as a general term for all
those troublesome, benighted vampires who refuse to
participate in the traditional order, whether of legiti-
mate or illegitimate siring. Anarchs, autarkis, Caitiff
and thin-blooded are all vagrants. The phrase the vagrant
problem is being bandied about Elysium with increasing
frequency as disaster looms ever nearer.
Chapter One: Twice Damned examines the
biological reality of what renowned Malkavian sangui-
narian Dr. Douglas Netchurch refers to as “Thin Blood
Syndrome.” It also contains certain rules systems for
thin-blooded quirks, such as altered blood point costs
and information on the “half-vampire” dhampirs.
Chapter Two: Alas, That Great City explores the
social aspects of the Time of Thin Blood. It explains
the perspective and the survival strategies of weakling
vampires, then discusses the Kindred reaction to the thin-
blooded and other portents of doom (the picture is not a
pretty one). The scourge — a bloody reincarnation of an
ancient Kindred office — is expanded and developed.
Chapter Three: A Stain on the Soul provides mechanics
and suggestions for creating vampires of the last generations,
as well as systems for the curious power of Insight.
Chapter Four: Written in Red offers concepts
and advice to Storytellers for building chronicles set
on the eve of Gehenna, particularly with thin-blooded
player characters.
Chapter Five: New Blood gives five plug-and-play
templates for thin-blooded and dhampir characters.
Finally, the Appendix: The Week of Nightmare
looks at the terrible toll the Time of Thin Blood has
taken on the World of Darkness — and one clan in
particular. It seems that Gehenna came early this year
for one of the Cainite clans.…
Proceed, then, with caution, into the birth of a
new and darker age.…
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
15
CHAPTER ONE:
TWICE DAMNED
For a minute I lost myself.
— Radiohead, “Karma Police”
Greetings and felicitations to you, my esteemed patron; and greetings as well to my other sponsors and fellow
scholars.
Allow me to present this report on my latest research in Kindred physiology. The last two years have been fruitful
— more fruitful than I could have guessed when I undertook, at the request of several sponsors, to disentangle the facts
and fancies about Thin Blood.
Perhaps because we Kindred do not suffer most of the “shocks that flesh is heir to,” the possibility of any sort of
handicap assumes a peculiar horror. When that disability lies in the Blood — our vitae itself, the very essence of our
being — is it any wonder that rumor should grow? “Thin blood,” once rare, has supposedly become common among
the youngest and weakest generations of the Kindred. Is it contagious? Could it spread from anarch rabble to honored
princes? Fortunately, the research I have conducted and analyzed can dispel the clouds of myth.
(Nota bene: In the interests of keeping this discourse as free from occlusion as possible, I have chosen to relegate the
condition of thin blood to lower-case. Henceforth, I shall refrain even from using those dreadful quotation marks. My interests
in the matter are scientific rather than prosaic, and I would choose not to burden the audience with affectations.)
Until now, thin blood lacked a precise definition. Different Kindred could mean different things when they spoke
of thin blood. For instance, one might call an elder vampire with little influence or force of personality thin-blooded to
suggest feebleness or even senility.
More often, however, Kindred use the term to refer to their juniors, in both age and generation. I have met elders who
regarded all vampires of the Eighth Generation or higher as thin-blooded. Tonight, thin blood usually refers to neonates
of the highest generations, especially Caitiff and anarchs, who abandoned their sires or who were abandoned by them.
As I will show, this popular definition is too broad. Thin Blood Syndrome is a precise vampiric condition. It is not
the product of any moral failing, either in sire or childe.
W
HO HAS THIN BLOOD?
Many speak of so-called “Caitiff” or “clanless” vampires as having thin blood as if the terms were synonymous. This equation
is false — though as I will show, Caitiff and Thin Blood Syndrome have a connection. For now, suffice it to say that while many
Caitiff genuinely do have Thin Blood Syndrome, others have blood as potent as any other vampire of their generation.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
16
Others refer to all high-generation neonates as thin-blood-
ed. This is merely the prejudice of age and generation against
youth. Of course Kindred of the 13th Generation are weaker
than Kindred of the Eighth! Of course Kindred sired five years
ago are weaker than those sired five centuries ago!
Yet the differences are of degree, not of kind. Only the
veriest idiot would read some moral lesson into these simple
facts — or dismiss a fellow Cainite as somehow inconsequen-
tial, or unworthy of their Blood, because of age and generation.
Any prudent vampire realizes that power comes far more
from intellect and experience than from innate strength of
the Blood. An astute neonate of the 13th Generation makes a
far better ally than a fool of the Eighth who has dwelt under
his sire’s protection for the past century.
Thin Blood Syndrome does correlate strongly to generation,
though. Although extremely rare among most vampires, it oc-
curs with some frequency among 12th- through 13th-Generation
Kindred and very often among 14th-generation Cainites. Only
among 15th-generation Kindred does it become universal.
Permit me, however, to dispel a common misconception.
The viscosity of vitae does not change from generation to
generation. Although vitae does literally thicken somewhat
with age, the difference becomes noticeable only when the
vampire is many centuries old.
THE VITAE EFFICACY SCALES
While most Kindred know that some vitae has more intrinsic
power than other, until recently no one has quantified this potential.
I am indebted to Professor Maxius of Clan Tremere for his Vitae
Efficacy scales of measurement, and I refer interested readers to
his papers. In brief, Maxius defined five scales:
• The Starvation Scale: The test vampire feeds until
fully sated. It then goes hungry until it enters torpor from
starvation, taking care not to expend vitae upon any other
function. All vampires of the same generation take roughly
the same number of days to completely starve if they engage
in no other use of vitae. Repeated trials produce an average
value of high reliability.
• The Wound Regeneration Scale: Sated test vampires
are repeatedly wounded in the same way, healing the wound
each time. Note that one must adhere strictly to experimental
protocols, making each wound identical, or one cannot be
sure that the same quantity of vitae is expended in healing
each wound.
For the most accurate results, test subjects should be
forced to continue until they expend all vitae. Maxius found,
however, that the change in a test subject’s weight before
and after regeneration could also be used to measure vitae
efficacy: Lower-generation vampires consume a smaller
mass of vitae when they heal wounds.
(I also feel some compunction to note that this test is,
perhaps, unnecessarily harsh on the subjects, but I do not
presume to judge Maxius’ personal stake in the matter.)
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
17
• The Might Scale: Test subjects repeatedly expend vitae to augment their strength. From the number of times participants can
increase their strength before exhausting their vitae, or (again) the change in body weight, one can calculate vitae efficacy.
This scale is less reliable. One must quantify each subject’s “normal” strength before he heightens his strength. Participants
may also augment their strength by different amounts in each trial. Statistically valid results demand many repeated trials.
• The Discipline Scale: Sated vampires repeatedly employ some Discipline that consumes vitae, until they reach the
point of starvation. This requires, however, that all test subjects know the same Discipline — a condition the experimenter
can seldom meet. Usually, the Discipline Scale is useful only to confirm test results from other scales.
• The Ghoul Scale: After complete exsanguination of the subject, one determines how many ghouls one can create
using the subject’s supply of vitae.
My own research confirms Maxius’ results. All vampires of the same generation have the same potential for exer-
tion, measured in what Maxius calls “Vitae Efficacy Units” (VEUs). The lower a vampire’s generation, the more VEUs it
contains — even though by fluid volume, they contain roughly the same quantity of Blood. One can determine a vampire’s
generation just by measuring the mass of vitae lost in the course of a day’s sleep, or in healing a calibrated wound. More
importantly, for most vampires the four scales all give the same results.
This is not true for vampires with Thin Blood Syndrome. For vampires of the 14th and 15th Generations, the Vitae
Efficacy scales do not always match.
By the Starvation Scale, fully sated vampires of the 13th, 14th and 15th Generations all contain the same number of
VEUs. In 10 nights, they reach minimum weight and exhaustion of vitae; on the 11th night, signs of physical deterioration
appear; on the 18th night, they enter torpor. Tests using the other scales, however, reveal severe restrictions on vitae usage
among 14th and 15th-generation vampires. In the course of testing, three distinct populations emerged.
POPULATION I: “NORMAL” 14TH GENERATION
Even when sated, these vampires could regenerate wounds or augment their strength only eight times before needing
to feed again. Despite this, they kept a reserve of two VEUs. They could use this reserve vitae only for the autonomic
function of waking each evening. I found no other measurable handicap in this population.
POPULATION II: “THIN-BLOODED” 14TH GENERATION
These Kindred could regenerate or quicken only four times. When they exhausted their ability to use vitae, however,
they too kept a reserve of two VEUs, usable only for waking. Careful measurement of changes in body weight while
expending vitae revealed the reason for this discrepancy: Kindred of this population expend vitae at double the rate of
other vampires. More detailed testing also revealed other handicaps relating to vitae usage.
POPULATION III: “THIN-BLOODED” 15TH GENERATION
These Kindred could regenerate or quicken only three times when fully sated at the start of testing, but kept a reserve of four VEUs,
usable only for waking. They, too, expended vitae at double the normal rate.
OTHER HANDICAPS
More detailed testing of my research subjects revealed two other disabilities arising from Thin Blood Syndrome.
Anecdotal evidence suggests a third.
GHOULS
The Ghoul Scale proved completely inapplicable to Populations II and III. These vampires could not create or sustain ghouls
at all. Population I vampires could sustain ghouls normally, even with their last two “reserve” VEUs.
THE BLOOD BOND
Nor could Population II or III vampires bond mortals
to them. Several research subjects eventually volunteered to
accept blood bonds from other subjects, in the interests of
science. None of the vampires in Populations II or III could
blood bond another vampire. Kindred of Population I had
no difficulty.
Vampires of all three populations, however, proved equally
susceptible to blood bonds from Population I or “normal” vam-
pires. They can be blood bound just like any other Cainite — a
reassuring discovery, in view of certain other of their abilities.
Vitae Efficacy Units
Dr. Netchurch has, of course, discovered the blood
point. In game terms, vampires who actually have the
Thin Blood Flaw have double blood point costs for healing
wounds, boosting their physical Attributes and fueling Dis-
ciplines (those Disciplines that cost blood points, anyway).
The cost for nightly rising, however, remains one blood
point. Compared to other vampires, vampires with Thin
Blood Syndrome can hardly use their vitae at all!
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
18
THE EMBRACE
Thin Blood Syndrome affects a vampire’s ability to Embrace
mortals. Two of my “normal” 14th-generation vampires (Population
I) had sired childer (one of whom herself became a test subject in my
research). One of my Population II subjects claimed that she once tried
to sire a childe and failed, killing the unfortunate mortal. Vampires
with connections to the anarch and neonate communities report other
incidents of 14th-generation vampires failing to sire childer. For
Kindred of the 14th Generation, the overall chance of siring a childe
seems to lie between 40 and 60 percent. What’s more, popular reports
claim that 15th Generation vampires cannot sire at all.
I suspect that success at the Embrace would vary between
Populations I and II — that Population I vampires could sire
with little or no incidence of failure, while Population II would
suffer almost certain failure, just like Population III Kindred.
I would like to determine exact percentages under laboratory
conditions. Unfortunately, the concomitant ethical problems make testing very difficult. I will tender a complete report
once I have located a large enough supply of suicidal or socially negligible mortals to act as test subjects.
Questioning of thin-blooded subjects also revealed a peculiarity about their own Embraces. As we all know, the
change from human to Cainite takes a very short time — usually less than a minute. Several subjects, however, claimed
that longer periods passed between their exsanguination and their rising as a vampire. The longest hiatus reported was 15
hours. During this period, as far as their sires could tell, the subjects were dead.
Only one of my Population I subjects claimed such a “delayed Embrace.” Three of my Population II subjects did so, as did four
of my Population III subjects. (See the appendices for a complete tabulation, but the data set is too small for statistical analysis.)
DISCIPLINES
The highest generations may also have a reduced capacity for developing Disciplines. That none of my test subjects
had completely mastered any Discipline is perhaps not surprising, considering their youth. None had been a vampire more
than seven years. Among the 15th-generation test subjects, the oldest had spent just 14 months as a vampire. Obviously,
none of them had heard of a 14th or 15th-generation vampire ever fully mastering a Discipline. Several reported a rumor
or legend that the thin-blooded could master a Discipline only if they lowered their generation through foul diablerie.
I cannot yet corroborate this rumor. To confirm or refute that the thin-blooded can never master a Discipline will take many years.
The experimenter will have to train numerous thin-blooded subjects for statistically valid results. I cannot add such a program to my
research schedule without increased funding and resources. Perhaps some other Kindred eugenicist might take up this challenge?
I can report, however, that the latter generations learn Disciplines more slowly than vampires of lower generation (though not so
slowly as a ghoul). I leave it to other researchers, with greater experience at educating childer, to calibrate this deficiency and establish
whether it correlates with genuine Thin Blood Syndrome or whether it occurs among all vampires of the highest generations.
THIN BLOOD DEFINED
From these test results, one can construct a precise definition of Thin Blood Syndrome:
• Thin-blooded vampires must expend twice as many VEUs as other vampires to heal wounds, increase their physical
prowess or fuel certain Disciplines. (I conjecture that the Might Scale results for strength will also hold for reflexes or
resistance to damage. Unfortunately, Maxius has not yet published detailed experimental protocols for measuring these
aspects of physical augmentation.)
• Thin-blooded vampires cannot create or sustain ghouls at all.
• Thin-blooded vampires cannot blood bond mortals or other vampires.
• Among thin-blooded vampires, ability to confer the Embrace is greatly reduced, if not completely eliminated.
Populations II and III suffer from Thin Blood Syndrome in full measure. Population I does not. All three populations, however, show
certain features in common. I believe that Thin Blood Syndrome merely indicates a deeper change within the highest generations.
THIN BLOOD AND THE CLANLESS
Contrary to popular belief, not all Caitiff fit this proper definition of thin blood. I believe that this misconception arose be-
cause so many high-generation vampires do not know their clan ancestry and culture. Some do not even know what a clan is!
Alternate Rules
Why do only some vampires of the highest generations
have Thin Blood Syndrome? Why not all of them?
Good question. Storytellers who want to make the thin-
blooded an important part of their campaign can rule that
in their World of Darkness, every 14th-generation vampire
has the Thin Blood Flaw (but have a better chance of siring
childer — say, 50 percent instead of 20 percent — or there
ain’t gonna be many 15th-generation vampires!) Or they can
rule that only Caitiff receive the compensations of thin blood
(personal Disciplines, Insight, etc.), but the generational limit
doesn’t apply. Or they can rule that only vampires with the
actual Thin Blood Flaw get the special benefits. Ultimately,
as always, the decision rests in the Storyteller’s hands.
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
19
Without knowledge of a Cainite’s ancestry, determining her clan membership becomes a detective’s puzzle. One
can sometimes recognize a Nosferatu Caitiff with relative ease (see my notes on that peculiar anomaly in Dr. Reage’s
“Xenogenesis of the Nosferatu” paper), but in other cases, the clues may be slender. The Disciplines that an ignorant
neonate “just picked up” seldom give an unambiguous answer. Many of the special weaknesses and foibles we regard
as so characteristic of our lineages may not be obvious. Nor can we regard them as universal. A strong-willed Cainite
can overcome many of the hereditary handicaps. I myself am Malkavian by ancestry, but no insanity has ever tainted my
devotion to the rational processes of science. Conversely, a vampire may show handicaps or obsessions quite unusual to
their clan; for instance, a Gangrel with the dietary exclusions of a Ventrue, or a high-strung Toreador with the temper of a
Brujah. I refer the curious to my august sire Trimeggian’s Encyclopædia Hæmovoria for a full discussion of the methods
and difficulties of determining an unknown vampire’s clan affiliation.
Because of these difficulties, “Caitiff” very often means “lineage unknown” and nothing more. Were they closely
examined and their ancestries known, no doubt many “Caitiff” would stand revealed as members of one clan or another.
They merely did not receive training in their clan’s affinities, culture — yes, and foibles.
That said, I must still concede that many of the highest generations do seem to be true Caitiff. At least, a sizable
fraction of these vampires display no Discipline affinities or weaknesses so strongly that one could assign them to a clan.
I have never yet found a Kindred of the 15th Generation whom I would confidently place in a clan if I did not know his
ancestry (most often, I do not). At least half the vampires of the 14th Generation defy classification as well.
My research does not show any greater preponderance of Thin Blood Syndrome among the clanless (or “clan-unidentified”)
than among those who clearly show a clan heritage. While thin blood and clanlessness are certainly linked phenomena, their con-
nection is not simple.
COMPENSATIONS OF THIN BLOOD SYNDROME
Despite its inconveniences, Thin Blood Syndrome may offer at least a few small benefits to its unfortunate victims. Indeed,
popular report attributes some quite marvelous powers to the thin-blooded. Two such claims I regard as proven; one remains
anecdotal. Finally, one is proven, but with such far-reaching implications that I must describe it in a separate section.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
20
RESISTANCE TO SUNLIGHT?
I was as skeptical as anyone about tales of “Caitiff rabble” walking by day. I know from experience that even Methuselahs
must fear to walk by day: Despite their fantastic resistance to other sorts of damage, the elders may burn within minutes, even
on a cloudy day. I can verify this from witnessing my grandsire Addemar’s suicide in 1877. Addemar is said to have taken
a cannonball to the chest without harm, but in sunlight he caught fire in 34 seconds and burned to ash 12 seconds thereafter.
(Naturally, I estimate those times as accurately as possible.)
As a scientist, however, I keep an open mind and put these stories to the test. I, six local neonates of various genera-
tions and several of my high-generation test subjects briefly exposed ourselves to sunlight at various intensities. Only the
left hand was so exposed to a narrow beam of sunlight, carried into the laboratory via a fiber-optic cable. Chaining the
subjects to vivisection tables eliminated the possibility of phobic reaction (Dörn’s overwrought “Rötschreck”) spoiling
the experiment. I must particularly thank my ghoul assistant, Dr. Reage, for her invaluable help with test subjects who
could not stay awake until the experiments. Fortunately, wakefulness or sleep had no discernible effect on test results.
I myself am more than usually resistant to sunlight, having cultivated supra-physiological resilience (what my sire,
Trimeggian, dubbed “Fortitude” in Encyclopædia Hæmovoria). Despite this, exposure to full sunlight burned my left
hand to ash in short order. Most test subjects exhibited similar responses (complete data, with statistical analysis, appears
in Appendix Two). Among my 15th-generation test subjects, however — and only among them — trauma from sunlight
progressed at a slower rate than it did with 14th- or lower-generation test subjects. Later experimentation showed no further
evidence of general resistance to other forms of extreme damage among 15th-generation vampires. Chemical combustion
damaged their flesh as quickly as it did the tissue of other vampires. Likewise, violent removal of large masses of flesh
from limbs or the trunk caused equal reduction of their ability to perform various physical and mental tasks.
I also exposed research subject tissue samples to sunlight. These in vitro experiments permit a more precise measure-
ment of 15th-generation resistance to sunlight, since the tissue samples do not struggle, scream or expend vitae in attempts
to regenerate themselves. At high intensities, incineration progressed at almost the same rate as for other vampires. At low
intensities, however, incineration took much longer for 15th-generation tissue samples than it did for the flesh of other
vampires. If a 15th-generation test subject could stay awake during the in unvivo tests to augment their resilience with
vitae, they could resist sunlight even longer. For all other vampires, vitae expenditure does nothing to resist sunlight.
What is more, these subjects could heal the damage as easily as they healed punctures, small incisions, broken bones
and other conventional wounds. Theoretically, a 15th-generation vampire with well-developed “Fortitude” might resist a
mild exposure to sunlight (as, for instance, on a heavily overcast day) for several minutes, and could easily survive briefer
exposures to more concentrated sunlight.
This is hardly the “immunity to sunlight” of popular rumor. As we all know, however, tales grow in the telling. I
now have two 15th-generation test subjects repeatedly exposing themselves to low doses of filtered sunlight in an effort
to develop their “Fortitude.” In a few years, I hope to provide graphic and incontrovertible proof that 15th-generation
vampires can develop such remarkable resistance.
NOVEL DISCIPLINES?
Wild tales of vampires with unknown Disciplines are certainly nothing new. Nor are they confined to rumors about the
thin-blooded: In the last two years, some quite absurd stories about the vampires of the Orient have gained wide circulation. Until
recently, these “new Disciplines” proved elusive. Like the vanishing hitchhiker or the poodle in the microwave, they were always
seen by a friend of a friend, never in an Elysium with a dozen reputable witnesses. (I refer interested parties to my sire’s attempts
to locate a vampire with the alleged Discipline of “Bardo.” He concludes that the Discipline does not exist.) How could one believe
that a neonate should generate a new Discipline, when even Methuselahs find it a labor of centuries, if at all possible?
(Again I refer to the work of my sire, who concluded that our dead flesh and static states rendered such
creation impossible. Although I have noticed aberrations in
the greater condition of vampires, particularly those of the
high generations — see below — vampires do seem to be
inclined toward stasis rather then evolution.)
Almost a third of my research subjects, however, clearly
displayed “Discipline” powers not described in Encyclopædia
Hæmovoria. These occurred in all three populations. Al-
low me to describe three of the more interesting cases. (For
complete descriptions, see Appendix One. All names are
pseudonyms to protect the privacy of research subjects.)
The “New” Disciplines
Some of these are actually Disciplines from other
supplements. “Jason” and “Jeff” have Sanguinis, described
in the Guide to the Sabbat. “Jinx” comes from the Dark
Ages Discipline of Maleficia, described in Dark Ages
Companion. See below for more on using “old” but
obscure Disciplines and Thaumaturgical Paths as “new”
Disciplines for the thin-blooded to invent.
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
21
“Carlos,” a 14th-generation Ventrue (Population II), preferred to feed from sleeping vessels as a matter of convenience (in my
lab, of course, this is no longer necessary). He developed a literal hypnotic power, putting mortals to sleep simply by staring at them
for a minute or so. This ability does not require verbal interaction or any awareness of Carlos’ presence on the victim’s part.
“Jason” and “Jeff,” twin 14th-generation Caitiff (Population I) who share a blood bond, can heal each other’s wounds from
more than 50 meters away, so long as they can see each other. They claim they discovered this ability within a month after their
Embrace. In the course of experimentation, they also found they could make external body parts such as arms or eyes vanish
from one of them and appear on the other’s body. (As yet, they have not found any use for this power more constructive than,
as they put it, “grossing out” my other subjects and research staff. Not all these anomalous powers are useful.)
“Mary,” a 15th-generation Caitiff (Population III) and enthusiastic gambler, had an unusually subtle power. She could guarantee
her victory in any game of chance... or rather, she could guarantee her opponent’s defeat. More than that, she found she could make
anyone fail in their next clearly defined task, if it had any aspect of chance or uncertainty of success. For instance, she could not
make a pair of dice roll a specific number but she could make a person lose a bet about whether the next number would be even
or odd. Her mark bet wrong more than 90 percent of the time. In the same manner, when she concentrated on a target-shooter
who normally hit a bull’s-eye at a given distance 70 percent of the time, his accuracy dropped to less than 10 percent.
Nor were these the occasional freaks of vampire physiology, neither teachable nor heritable, that one sometimes encounters
among the Kindred. I myself have learned Carlos’ “Sleep Whammy.” Jason and Jeff have taught their wound-healing trick to
another pair of mutually blood bound Cainites. Mary, alas, met Final Death before she could share her probability-influencing
“Jinx” with me and so render my research self-supporting (or rather, involuntarily funded by Las Vegas and Monte Carlo).
The evidence is overwhelming. The thin-blooded can create new Disciplines , obviously, and other vampires can learn them.
According to my sire, vampires who devise new Disciplines once received the title of inceptors. Hitherto, only Antediluvians
and other elders of low generation received this honorific. Despite the outrage to sensibilities — and my sire became quite
voluble when I made the suggestion to him — we shall have to get used to speaking of thin-blooded, neonate inceptors.
CLAIRVOYANCE?
Rumors of “Caitiff prophets” and thin-blooded “seers” have become nearly as common as tales of anomalous Dis-
ciplines. This rumor has proved more difficult to confirm or refute.
To date, four of my research subjects have claimed that they experience prophetic dreams, clairvoyant visions or
simply hunches which proved uncannily accurate. They have grouped all these phenomena under the label of “insight.”
Such claims actually seemed quite plausible. Initially, I believed that they had developed the Discipline my sire has dubbed
(uncharacteristically poetically) Auspex, but did not understand its significance.
Standard tests for Auspex, however, failed to show the characteristic powers so carefully catalogued by my sire and
familiar to so many of us. Only one subject could augment sight and hearing to superhuman levels. None could perceive
auras. All failed at the Zener card tests that would have shown use of telepathy or remote viewing.
My secondary hypothesis was another new Discipline, perhaps a variation of Auspex appearing widely throughout the thin-
blooded population. With the assistance of the local Skeptics’ Society, Dr. Reage developed several tests for precognition and
clairvoyance. Once more, results fell below a statistically significant rate of success, well within the range of mere chance.
Test subject “Wendy” claimed that her so-called “insight” only dealt with the present, past and future of other vampires. At this
point, I confess I suspected the “cold reading” tricks employed by mortal fortunetellers to dupe the gullible. (I myself can perform
cold readings of other people’s history, character and interests. These seem quite astonishing to persons who do not appreciate how
a trained observer can extract information from even the tiniest clues. An ability to pull information from “nowhere” is claimed for
the Discipline called Dementation, which has now become all too well known — but I of course do not practice that Discipline.)
During a visit by two ancillae, however, three of my self-proclaimed “seers” spontaneously made shocking claims about
the visitors’ past activities and connections to senior Kindred. As my patron well knows, these claims not only greatly upset
both visitors, it led to the murder of one, the execution of the other as the killer, and the current prosecutions by the scourge.
(May I share my outrage over the accusations of treason against your dear childe. I cannot believe them and am sure that in-
vestigation will lead to full exoneration.) Still, the investigations have borne out most of the specific claims by my “seers.”
One demonstration, however, does not constitute proof. The entire situation could have been a setup, with information
hypnotically implanted in my subjects’ minds by parties unknown, precisely to cause such turmoil.
Subsequent attempt to evoke this insight proved inconclusive at best, blatant failures at worst — with one exception. Dr.
Reage suggested that the stringent protocols against tampering used in solo tests might have an intimidating, negative effect on
test subjects. A more sympathetic group setting might cause less anxiety and give better results. Although this smacked of the
“bad vibes from skeptics” that psychics use to explain away their failures, it seemed worth trying at least once. Dr. Reage also
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
22
suggested using the placebo effect — some harmless flimflam — to increase the subjects’ confidence. Normally I dislike deceiv-
ing my test subjects, but Dr. Reage supplied abundant precedent for such techniques in psychological research.
My honored sire, Trimeggian, paid one of his all-too-rare visits just before the séance. With his permission, I made him part of
my “placebo.” Before the test, all four subjects consumed blood that, unbeknownst to them, contained a small dose of ketamine. In
mortals, this drug produces a dreamy, suggestive state; in a blood solution, it has much the same effect on vampires. The subjects
and my sire sat in a circle around a table. I told the subjects that my sire would use his awesome mastery of Auspex to open their
minds to the future. My sire then sonorously counted to 10 in Old Church Slavonic as I lowered the lights.
Seldom have I seen such shared concentration. I must confess to a moment of superstitious dread as my four “seers” cried out
the name “Lamdiel!” in perfect unison. Still speaking as one, they described a small lake surrounded by mountains — then three
owls sitting together on a tree branch — and then a naked youth rising from the waters beneath a blood-red moon.
As is well known, the power to read minds seldom works upon one’s fellow Kindred. Nevertheless, I made a supreme effort and was re-
warded with success. I entered the minds of my “seers” and... I saw. I saw the youth — a boy in his early teens — cast a silver butterfly at
a great tower marked with a rose, and the tower falling. I saw myself standing beside my sire Trimeggian as the cast-iron door to his
sanctum broke into thousands of scuttling beetles. I saw my sire’s precious books take wing as birds, as the youth stepped through
the doorway, blood dripping from his hands. I saw him pick us up — we were no larger than mice — and swallow us whole.
I beg my readers to forgive any lapse from scientific objectivity. It was a shattering experience. Severe as it was for myself,
it left my seers (I can no longer use the quotation marks of doubt) in torpor. One has not woken up yet.
Let me repeat that I still have only anecdotal evidence for this prophetic power of “insight.” In science, no single eyewitness report
can constitute proof. We must have reproduction of results, or at least some sort of corroboration. Trimeggian hopes to prove the
vision’s worth by finding the Lake of Three Owls and that youth, his grandsire, Lamdiel, whose portrait he inherited from his sire,
Addemar. Yet I fear the search will prove futile, and we will know the vision’s truth only when it is far too late to take action.
ANOMALOUS BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY
The final aspect of Thin Blood Syndrome seems to have escaped popular report. If my research subjects are typical, most
thin-blooded know so little about the Cainite condition that they do not recognize their own anomalies. Other Kindred notice the
highest generations’ vitae handicaps and strange paranormal powers. They miss the subtler effects of Thin Blood Syndrome.
I, however, have made detailed observations of the thin-blooded for two years, under a wide variety of physiological stresses.
As a result, I have discovered a phenomenon so unprecedented as to call into doubt our most fundamental understanding of the
Curse of Caine.
The stasis of our corporeal form is so well known to us that we often ignore it. It is a truism that we Cainites do not age;
more than that, our bodies do not change at all, except for a slight increase in pallor as the centuries pass. When we awaken each
night, our bodies have restored themselves to the exact condition and appearance they held on the first night of the Embrace.
Mortals grow and age; we do not.
(I can attest to the power of this stasis. As a neonate, newly entered upon my trademark research, I undertook to remove a
tattoo from a fellow Cainite, a former sailor who found the vulgar mark hindering his new courtly ambitions. In the end, I had to
excise nearly a pound of flesh to keep the tattoo from reappearing on his regenerated skin.)
Thus, when I noticed that research subject “Jason” bore an unaccustomed five-o’clock shadow on rising one evening, I
suspected one of his jokes. When I told him to “wash off that fake stubble,” however, he seemed genuinely surprised to find it
there. I am ashamed to say that we exchanged heated words, but in the end Jason appealed to my scientific objectivity, inviting
me to inspect his whiskers for myself. Words cannot convey my surprise when I discovered that Jason spoke the truth!
My second hypothesis, that a Tzimisce impostor moved among my staff, I rejected within moments. If a flesh-altering Fiend
had infiltrated my laboratory, it would have struck in a far deadlier manner. I was left with the improbable — insane! — conclu-
sion that, as he slept during the day, Jason had indeed started growing a beard.
The most minute examinations on subsequent nights showed no further activity of Jason’s follicles, but from then on I kept
special watch for other evidence of transitory metabolic processes among my thin-blooded subjects. Over the following six months,
I found several instances of anomalous biological activity. Specifically, I found five instances of hair or beard growth by up to two
millimeters; three instances of nail growth by half a millimeter; three instances of perspiration (mortal sudation, not the “blood
sweat” we Kindred sometimes experience under extreme stress); two instances of sun-tanning; and one menstrual period. Three
instances involved more than one form of biological activity. (See the case studies in Appendix Three for details.)
As the case studies show, each biological episode followed a period of intensive vitae expenditure. Five occurred during or shortly
after convalescence from vivisection. Four occurred when the subject repeatedly fed to repletion then expended vitae to exhaustion as part
of Vitae Efficacy Unit testing. The remaining two episodes (the sun-tanning) occurred during the sunlight exposure tests. All biological
episodes lasted less than 12 hours. Four episodes occurred among 14th-generation test subjects and seven among the 15th generation.
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
23
My patron may well wonder why I make so much of these petty examples of cellular activity. I know that many
Cainites not only accept their corporeal stasis, they come to find mortal physiological processes faintly repulsive. A slight
growth of beard may seem trivial. At most, does it not further show the weakness of the highest generations’ blood, that
it cannot completely prevent change? In my research, however, I found two other forms of anomalous biological activity
in a thin-blooded vampire. One such instance was not of short duration, and its consequences were far from trivial.
THE DHAMPIR
I come now to perhaps the most surprising and momentous discovery in my researches — perhaps the most astounding
discovery in the history of the research of Kindred physiology.
Last year, one of my correspondents reported that the Kindred of Cleveland were in an uproar about a masterless ghoul. As
you know from my past reports, such creatures exist in greater numbers than most Kindred care to believe. My correspondent
brought this young ghoul to my attention because he seemed not to require monthly infusions of vitae to maintain his unnatural
state. She hoped I could explain this impossibility.
I immediately recognized the creature as a revenant, a hereditary ghoul. (I have never traced the origin of this odd misnomer.
I leave that task to the etymologists of our kind.) In case the passing of time has dimmed my patron’s redoubtable memory, I
shall summarize my last report.
On very rare occasions, a ghoul conceives a child and bears it to term — most fetuses miscarry upon the mother’s inges-
tion of blood. Such a child, continuously exposed to Kindred vitae while in its mother’s womb, might not only be born already
ghouled, but may sustain that peculiar state by itself, without consumption of Kindred vitae.
If such anomalies breed amongst themselves, their children may become self-sustaining ghouls in turn. The loathsome Tzimisce
have bred families of such “revenants” for more than a thousand years. To date, I have only examined specimens from two families of
this unusual race, the Bratovitches and Zantosas. Only one revenant, a Mr. Zantosa, has participated in a detailed series of examinations.
(My attempts to breed a revenant of my own have so far met with failure. I suspect that the process may involve other factors as yet
unknown.) The prospect of another revenant to examine did much to assuage my lingering grief at Mr. Zantosa’s demise. Fortunately,
my immediate missive to the Prince of Cleveland proved influential enough to prevent this new revenant’s execution.
For several months, young “Michael Smith” (not his real name) proved an enthusiastic associate. His willing participation in
all vivisection, once its purpose was clearly explained, puts the lie to claims that the younger generation of mortals has no interest in
science! I am sure that his unannounced departure during the day was due to urgent and unavoidable responsibilities elsewhere.
Every test I conducted indicated that Michael was indeed a revenant. Although carefully monitored to prevent any chance
of him ingesting Cainite vitae, he displayed typical ghoul characteristics, including the ability to augment muscular strength,
reflexes, pain resistance and healing. Under my tutelage, he not only learned to resist the effects of grave somatic damage (i.e.,
Fortitude), he learned to extend his senses, thus gaining the rudiments of Auspex. A meritorious boy, indeed.
Despite claims that he felt “different” and set apart, Michael seemed in most ways a normal, contemporary American
teenager. (Dr. Reage assures me that such feelings of alienation are virtually universal at Michael’s age.) He displayed none of
the mental aberrations which at times strained my relations with Mr. Zantosa. Michael claimed, however, that his mother was a
vampire. Not a ghoul who served a vampire, but a vampire herself.
In full, Michael said that his father alone raised him in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. He would never speak of Michael’s mother.
When “Mr. Smith” remarried, Michael found the changed domestic situation unpleasant and ran away to nearby Cleveland in
search of his other parent. He found her, and she revealed her secret to him as an explanation for why he was “different.” Her
naive attempts to introduce him to Kindred society brought about the uproar that brought him to my attention.
I investigated despite the manifest absurdity of the claim: A scientist must always remain open to startling claims, at least
when concrete evidence is promised. I verified the identity of Michael’s father, a drugstore manager in Cuyahoga Falls. “Mr.
Smith” denied any peculiarity in his first wife, but I swiftly recognized the signs of memory alteration. When I removed the
mnemonic blocks, he confirmed Michael’s story.
His first wife, he said, was indeed a vampire. As with so many American families, however, the birth of a child strained
their relationship (which must have been rather odd to begin with), and they separated. In a praiseworthy show of concern for the
Masquerade, “Mrs. Smith” blurred her ex-husband’s memory, leaving him with the belief that she had merely pursued a nocturnal
lifestyle whose peculiarity became intolerable. I myself find such mind-tampering morally repugnant, but when I explained my
quandary to “Mr. Smith” he quite rationally accepted the importance of the Masquerade for both Kindred and kine. In a stunning
display of altruism, he adopted his own conclusive solution to the problem. I salute his memory.
All that remained was to locate the former “Mrs. Smith” in Cleveland. Alas, she met Final Death the week before I arrived,
executed by the same scourge who had harassed her son. (Let me tell you, I gave the self-important fool a few stern words when
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
24
I found out.) Queries among the rabble of Cleveland’s Kindred, however, confirmed the identify of “Mrs. Smith” as a vampire,
believed to be of the 15th generation. I must regard Michael’s remarkable parentage as proven. It appears, therefore, that two processes may generate revenants. They may be “bred up” from ghouls. Alternatively, rev-
enants may be “bred down” from vampires. For reasons I shall explain below, I believe this can happen only among vampires
of the 15th Generation.
To prevent confusion, such offspring ought to have a distinctive name of their own. The Gypsies of the Balkan region have
legends of such creatures; they call them dhampirs. Although these legends are surely mere coincidence — perhaps even the
result of old disinformation to protect the Masquerade — I propose using this name for the living offspring of vampires. It is a
name we shall need: Michael may well be the first dhampir, but as the thin-blooded proliferate, he will not be the last.
I very much hope Michael returns to me. I must confess to a certain avuncular or even parental regard, particularly now that
he is an orphan. I console myself that Michael and his father had already severed their relationship.
TOWARD A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK
Granted: The thin-blooded have both special handicaps and special abilities. Their appearance in the highest genera-
tions can hardly be mere coincidence. Thin Blood Syndrome is no mere disease, however; it is a change in the nature of
the Cainite race. It raises deep questions about the nature of the Curse of Caine itself. For example: Why has Thin Blood Syndrome appeared in the highest generations?
Why can the highest generations manifest new Disciplines and the prophetic or clairvoyant ability of insight?
Where do seers get their visionary information?
What is the precise nature of the power within our vitae, and the peculiar physical stasis it maintains?
How can the thin-blooded break that stasis — enough that some of them can have children? My conclusions are necessarily tentative. I present them as hypotheses to guide further investigation rather than as definitive answers.
True comprehension of the highest generations will require decades of labor. I hope we have those decades to spend on the quest.
GENERATIONAL MUTATION
Dramatic though the differences between thin-blooded and normal vampires may be, we know of other generational schisms,
equally dramatic, within the Cainite race. To wit:
In the Third Generation, the Cainite race divided into clans. Caine himself had no clan. According to the Book of Nod, our ancestor knew all
Disciplines and had no specific, identifiable weakness. He merely endured the vulnerabilities to sunlight, fire, et cetera, that all of his progeny now
share. Legends of the Second Generation speak of them as “Enoch the Wise, Irad the Strong and Zillah the Beautiful” but do not specify any difference
in their abilities. (One of my test subjects argues that Caine and his direct childer fulfill the technical definition of Caitiff. An amusing conceit.)
The division into clans parallels a phenomenon from evolutionary biology called cladism. In this process, one species evolves
into a cluster of related species. The process occurs when geography or habitat divide the parent stock. Darwin’s finches on the
Galapagos Islands are the most famous example. A parent species of finch from South America split into more than a dozen new
species in the islands, each one adapted to live off a different food source, in a different habitat. Of course, no comparable process operates on vampires. Evolution by natural selection requires hundreds of generations to produce
a new species. Cainite inheritance, however, is Lamarckian rather than Darwinian. Acquired characteristics very often pass to our
childer, permitting a different sort of evolution that can proceed far more rapidly. Witness the phenomenon of minuscule bloodlines such
as the Daughters of Cacophony. My sire also documented large-scale changes within entire clans that result from selection of childer
for the Embrace and one Discipline becoming favored over others (once more, see the Encyclopædia Hæmovoria for details).
Legend attributes some clan origins to a curse from Caine (the Nosferatu are the most familiar example). Other clans, however,
have no such legend; nor do their Discipline affinities or distinctive weaknesses make much sense as punishments for ancient offenses. I
have never met Toreador who regarded their obsession with beauty as a curse. An inconvenience at times, yes, but one they bore gladly.
Much clan “speciation” seem to derive from nothing more than the ruling passions of their Antediluvian founders, fixed in the Blood.
Some may consider speciation into clans suspect on grounds that we cannot prove the historical existence of Caine, the Second
Generation or even the Third. Some revisionist scholars even argue that Caine is mythical and that the Antediluvians were the
true First Kindred. Others go further and cast doubt on the Antediluvians too, arguing that if we do not need a single progenitor to
explain the Kindred race as a whole, we do not need a single ancestor for each clan either. Be that as it may; such arguments lie
beyond my competence to judge.
Skeptics may also argue that even if Caine and the Antediluvians existed, our inability to examine them and quantify their abili-
ties renders them inadmissible as evidence for a scientific inquiry. I can only bow my head and reply that parabiological literature is
scant. The researcher can only refer to what he has available — even compilations of legends such as the Book of Nod. The skeptic
is also referred to Heinrich Schliemann’s excavation of Troy, an archaeological triumph guided only by the “legends” of Homer.
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
25
(I have included the prior statements at risk of offending my patron, yet I have done so out of scientific necessity. I am well aware of my
patron’s — and indeed, the Camarilla’s — argument against the existence of “Antediluvians,” yet my work by nature requires some point of
genesis for the Cainite race. Believe me, if I had the option of discarding such unpalatable theories as “Biblical curse,” I would, yet nothing in my
research has indicated otherwise. Until such time comes as I can cast such florid nonsense aside, I must indulge what little faith I have left.)
A more serious objection is that speciation has continued after the Third Generation. I cannot deny this. In some cases, one can
trace so-called bloodlines to still-extant elders (see, for instance, my sire’s case study of the obscure Kiasyd lineage and its incep-
tor, Prince Marconius of Strasbourg). Speciation among every member of the Third Generation, however, points to a fundamental
shift in the nature of the Cainite race.
The second wide-scale disjunction among Cainites comes with the Eighth Generation. All vampires of lower generation can,
given time, create at least one or two variations on powers within their Disciplines. Many Cainites regard this as the true measure
of Discipline mastery. Vampires of Eighth and higher generations, however, lose this ability. Such vampires can manifest only a
limited range of powers within each Discipline — as my sire has proved, the same range of powers, for every vampire who learns
that Discipline. This mutation occurs in every clan, whenever a Seventh Generation vampire sires a childe. It must be something
intrinsic to the Blood and the Embrace itself.
With two such examples before us, is it so remarkable that a wide-scale speciation should occur again? The changes at the
Third and Eighth Generations both imposed limits upon our race, a restriction of abilities. The change responsible for the highest
generations at least has its compensations. The Blood has lost much in power, but has gained much in versatility.
As further evidence, I point to the Caitiff. I have examined several dozen Caitiff of the 11th, 12th and 13th Generations. Only one
Caitiff manifested an unusual Discipline — in contrast with the nearly 30 percent of my highest-generation test subjects — and she
had damning black veins in her aura. She eventually confessed to reaching the 12th generation through diablerie (and, may I inform
my other readers, she has met her well-deserved fate from her prince). Nor have I found a vampire of 13th Generation (or lower) who
had insight. The evidence strongly suggests that Discipline creation and insight are unique to vampires of the highest generations.
(Is the mass appearance of Caitiff in these latter nights another aspect of generational adaptation? I believe so, but the con-
nection is not so strong or certain. Most Caitiff — of any generation — apparently do have neglectful or grotesquely ignorant
sires. Such disgraceful Kindred could hardly have trained their own childer properly in the ways of their kind. On the other hand,
mere ignorance does not suffice as an explanation. In these sorry latter nights, childer of surprisingly low generation are sired and
abandoned, or they run away. Yet these vampires rarely become Caitiff. What is more, many within the grisly Sabbat actively
repudiate their clan culture and sire with wild abandon… but the brave souls who dare to study the Sabbat report no wholesale
breakdown of clan identity into Caitiff mongrelism at every generation. The weakening of the Blood certainly predisposes the
siring of Caitiff, but it seems that good training can compensate until the highest generations.)
If one grants that certain “mutations” automatically appear as the Blood weakens with each generation from Caine, one must ask:
What is mutating? What, exactly, is it in the Blood that carries the Curse of Caine and how does it transform kine into Kindred?
THE NATURE OF THE EMBRACE
I am sure my readers all remember their own Embrace. I shall never forget when my sire gave me death and immor-
tality. The Embrace is so transcendent (for both sire and childe) that few truly scientific studies of it have ever been done
(I believe a number of Tzimisce study it intensely, but I would hardly call their lunatic experiments scientific). Divine or
diabolical the Embrace may be — or both — but that does not mean we must close our eyes in holy awe and refuse to
gaze upon it. The light of scientific truth will never strike us blind for our presumption.
Something passes to the childe from the sire’s vitae, but what? Pure biology cannot explain the transformation from
kine to Kindred. No virus could spread through the nascent childe’s body so rapidly, or wreak such a profound metamor-
phosis. Nor has any study of vitae, however detailed, identified any distinctive chemical or biological agent that could
cause the Embrace. In a physical sense, vitae consists of nothing more than the degraded remains of cells, platelets and
other components of mortal blood. The agent that transforms mortal blood into immortal vitae cannot be material at all.
Kine science knows only about Matter and Energy. It does not accept the idea of “spiritual” entities. (And it will not,
so long as my distinguished colleagues retain their influence in mortal academia. No matter how much we might enjoy
a wider collaboration with our mortal colleagues, the Masquerade must come first.) We Kindred, however, know from
abundant personal experience about whole other categories of being. When I project my sensorium out of my body,
instantly sending it to a location hundreds of miles away, I cannot deny that consciousness may exist apart from corpo-
reality. When I meet another such psychic traveler and tap him on the shoulder, I must even accept the existence of the
soul as a vehicle for consciousness distinct from the body.
Therefore, the lack of any physical agent does not push the Embrace beyond the reach of science. The Embrace merely
draws science into new fields of inquiry, into the nature of the soul and its interactions with the body. It would seem that
the tiny quantity of vitae given in the Embrace is merely a physical vehicle for a spiritual agent of tremendous power.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
26
Although no physical virus passes from sire to childe, viral infection remains a fruitful metaphor for the Embrace. A virus invades a cell, usurps its genetic predisposition, and thereby transforms the cell into a birthing chamber for more viruses, which can infect other cells in turn. Viruses are also used in genetic engineering to implant benign genes, such as a gene to make insulin. In a similar way, I hypothesize that the Em- brace passes a spiritual “virus” from the sire to the childe. This transfusion of supernatural force swiftly transforms the childe’s body and soul.
I need not dwell on the obvious changes to the body. The changes to the soul are equally dramatic, imposing the ferocious instincts we personify as the Beast. My ghoul colleague Dr. Reage has made extensive study of the Beast; allow me to summarize her papers on the subject.
Dr. Reage sees no justification for viewing the Beast as a demonic force intruding on the psyche from outside. Its source is, unfortunately, all too human. Normal, properly socialized humans keep their vicious, instinctual “dark side” suppressed. No matter how heinous the acts some mortals may commit, most humans do not go about killing, robbing and raping each other — but the urges do exist. Freud dubbed these repressed instincts and personality traits the Id. Dr. Reage prefers C. G. Jung’s term: the Shadow.
In the Embrace, the Shadow gains a terrible, monomaniacal power. The conscious mind can no longer fully repress it. Among mortals, the Shadow can actually evolve into a complex personality in its own right. Among Kindred, however, the Shadow seems to concentrate into hunger, rage and a primordial fear of fire and sunlight, the forces that most swiftly destroy our kind. In some ways these instincts act to protect the vampire, but the Beast’s inability to plan, negotiate or engage in any sort of rational or social activity renders it deeply dysfunctional. Dr. Reage speculates that therapy on the Jungian model might help Cainites and ghouls re-integrate the Beast and thereby weaken it — but that is a subject for another paper.
On the other hand, the infected, mutated soul gains tremendous paranormal powers. Our Disciplines (so many of them explicitly psychic, concerned with influencing the mind or soul of others) can have no other source: In most cases, no physiological change at all occurs in a vampire using a Discipline. Most Disciplines do not even involve moving the Blood about. Nor is it the heart that pushes the Blood into our limbs when we heighten our physical prowess.
The viral metaphor continues: The childe’s abilities resemble the sire’s. One cannot deny the importance of temperament and early training in determining a childe’s propensity for various Disciplines, but one also cannot deny the power of the Blood. My research subjects prove that well enough: “Carlos,” for instance, knew nothing of clans, but I could identify him as a Ventrue from his inability to consume blood that did not come from a Hispanic vessel (see my previous paper on clan identification for the double-blind procedures used).
The “vampire virus,” however, never replicates perfectly. Each infected soul carries less power than the soul that infected it. This culminates with the 15th Generation, where the “Curse of Caine” becomes so weak that it cannot transmit itself at all.
The “virus” can mutate, as well. I have already mentioned the oddly “pre-programmed” changes at certain generations. Rare mutations also cause new “bloodlines” to appear. Exposure to powerful, paranormal forces seems to cause at least some of these spontaneous “mutations.” (The Kiasyd’s founder, for instance, is said to have mutated from consuming large quantities of “faerie blood” — if one can believe such rusticism.)
The viral model also seems to explain many traits of ghouls. The “virus” can also infect the souls of living beings and at least partly mutate them. Living beings, however, seem far less susceptible. Neither body nor soul change so radically. On the one hand, although the soul can prevent the ghoul from aging, normal physiological and metabolic functions also continue. Since the ghoul’s body does not transform so drastically, ghouls lack Kindred vulnerabilities to fire and sunlight. On the other hand, the ghoul receives far less paranormal power. The ghoul’s domitor must even re-infect it at least once a month. Apparently, the connection to a living body grants the soul an “immune system” that eventually purges the supernatural virus.
The soul of a developing embryo, however, may be much weaker. Someone ghouled from conception — or whenever it is that the soul first manifests — might gain a permanent partial infection. (Let me repeat that unknown factors might influence whether or not this occurs.) Such an individual is a revenant. A dhampir such as “Michael” would gain the infection from his vampiric mother. If, as I suspect, a male vampire can father a dhampir child on a mortal woman, the virus would travel in the father’s semen.
The viral hypothesis raises many unanswered questions. For instance, can one create an analogue to a vaccine? This would render a mortal impossible to ghoul or Embrace (though the benefit to the mortal is dubious at best). Can some process induce the permanent low-level infection of a revenant or dhampir in a mortal adult? Can one re-infect vampires to change their clan or remove Blood-borne weaknesses? I suspect that at least some Nosferatu and Samedi might like to “transfuse” to another clan, as it were, and regain their human appearance. Can the Embrace even be reversed? I myself have no faith in or desire for a “cure,” but a serum to change vampires back into mortals would be a powerful yet oddly humane weapon against one’s rivals.
UNDEAD OR UNALIVE?
The most obvious explanation for our peculiar nature, then, is that the infected, transformed and empowered soul animates the new vampire’s body. Without that animating force, a vampire’s body is merely a cadaver. The soul likewise prevents decay (or suspends the body at an appearance of advanced decay, in the case of the Samedi) and repairs any damage that does not cause Final Death outright. This has been the conventional wisdom. Certainly, the body of a vampire who has projected its soul elsewhere greatly resembles a corpse. But is this view accurate?
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
27
The instances of biological activity among the thin-blooded cast doubt upon this interpretation. Even the mightiest Methuselah
cannot grow his hair by so much as a millimeter. The flesh-warping Tzimisce are no exceptions: They transform tissues without any
real metabolism. Supposedly, the Tremere know rites to restore a semblance of life in various ways. Until Clan Tremere consents
to let Kindred science scrutinize these rites, I will presume that they do not involve any genuine biological activity either. So how
can the thin-blooded break a stasis against which even a Methuselah struggles in vain?
That a weakened curse should permit the fires of life to flicker again, however faintly or briefly, suggests another possible
interpretation: We are not cadavers animated in a semblance of life, but still-living creatures held in a deathly stasis by the Curse.
Some readers may consider this a “half empty/half full” distinction. We receive the Embrace when we hover at the point
of death… but even for mortals, death itself proves surprisingly hard to define. The tissues of the body do not die at once and all
together. Under optimum conditions, a person can seem utterly dead for more than an hour yet medical science can revive her. It
appears that we Cainites truly are caught in a perpetually arrested death, neither truly alive nor truly dead.
In the thin-blooded, the Curse of Caine cannot hold the body in perfect stasis. This is no mere speculation on my part. Study
of their cells shows that the thin-blooded are still at least partly alive, but with a greatly retarded metabolism.
Every Kindred scholar knows the difficulties of studying vampire tissues in vitro. Without constant infusion of vitae, they
tend to rot or crumble into dust. With a specially constructed microscope, however, one can examine tissues while they are still in
the body. I chose the inside of the cheek for initial examination: In mortals, cheek cells reproduce constantly (they are also conve-
niently large). Each night, each test subject had one cheek split and everted. Teams of assistants watched continuously through the
microscopes. Not a night went by without at least one cell caught in the act of mitosis.
Nor are cheek cells the only ones demonstrated to reproduce. In subsequent experiments, fingernails were removed so the
fast-growing cells at the base of the nail could be observed. Here too, scattered mitosis takes place in the thin-blooded.
Admittedly, cell reproduction proceeded at a much slower rate than in mortals. Processes that mortal cells accomplish in min-
utes, require hours for the thin-blooded. I have documented dozens of Kindred cell reproductions using time-lapse photography;
I will send copies to those who are interested.
This hypothesis still has one great flaw: When the thin-blooded meet Final Death, they crumble into dust just like any other
vampire. I can only speculate that however the Curse of Caine holds back the effects of time and entropy, the soul’s permanent
departure causes some sort of entropic backlash. I find it significant that while a dead ghoul crumbles to dust only if it has built up
many decades of deferred aging, a neonate who meets Final Death a few nights after the Embrace disintegrates as thoroughly as
the most superannuated elder.
Once more, these slender results suggest remarkable possibilities. Is it only the thin-blooded in whom cell reproduction
continues? Or does this take place in all vampires — but at an even more retarded rate? The technical difficulties of documenting
a mitosis that might take decades to complete are formidable indeed. Yet some night, somehow, the experiment must be done.
Whether we Kindred exist in a state of arrested life rather than arrested death might seem like philosophical hairsplitting, redolent
of angels and pins. May I remind my readers that the divisibility of the atom once seemed like an obscure trifle as well?
If nothing else, the half-living state of the thin-blooded renders the dhampir somewhat less miraculous. If a vampire’s body
tissues can revive for a short time, it becomes conceivable that they may reactivate for a long time. If a cheek cell or hair follicle
can revive, then why not a womb?
I am the first to admit that it is a great leap from a few hours of hair growth to nine months of pregnancy. (The late “Mr.
Smith” testified to “Michael’s” length of gestation. I cannot explain why a ghoul’s pregnancy should triple or quadruple in length
— assuming it does not terminate — when “Mrs. Smith’s” did not.) I can only speculate that the living embryo itself somehow
prolongs the vivification of the womb. I regard Dr. Reage’s comment never to underestimate the power of the maternal instinct
as needlessly flippant.
Five of my female test subjects have agreed to try conceiving children. I know of a local procurator whose gigolos would make
adequate (and, if necessary, disposable) sperm donors. I require only an assurance of continued funding to begin the experiment.
I would also like to try breeding a dhampir the other way, so to speak. For a somewhat higher fee, the procurator will permit
me to retain several of his “girls” in situ on an extended basis. My experiments in conscious reactivation of biological function led
to the final instance of anomalous biological activity. Male vampires of the 15th generation (but no others) can produce a sort of
semen containing motile (and, I assume, viable) sperm suspended in vitae.
This is actually one of the easier biological functions to activate (Dr. Reage’s comments on this were both cryptic and, I
believe, sarcastic). On two occasions, test subjects even reported the activity as pleasurable. I leave the details to Appendix Four,
as I have no desire to turn this paper into a Cainite Kinsey Report.
THE SOURCE OF INSIGHT
We must consider insight separately from other aspects of the highest generations. As a scientist, I cannot offer explanations for
a phenomenon whose very existence I cannot prove. Most of the time, I must take the word of my seers that they had a clairvoyant
experience. Forcing a telepathic link to share the experience is just as difficult as forcing the clairvoyant episode itself. I can only
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
28
Hello. I am Wendy. Dr. Netchurch says I shouldn’t tell anyone my real name. Dr.
Netchurch asked me to tell you about my visions. We call them insight. Mamma said to
thank people who do things for you so thank you Dr. Netchurch for keeping me safe and
letting me write to so many important people. And thank you Dr. Reage for helping me
with my spelling and being my friend.
Sometimes I know things but don’t know how I know them. Sometimes I see whole pic-
tures like a TV. It’s always about other Kindred (Dr. Reage tells me that’s the polite
word for us) or about people who serve us or things one of us uses a lot. It’s never
about other people or stuff. I think that is because I am a Kindred and other Kindred
matter most to me. If I was still a normal person then other people would matter most
to me. But if I was living I wouldn’t have visions at all so the point is moot. (That’s
something Dr. Reage says a lot. It means it doesn’t matter.)
Mostly I see TV pictures of other Kindred’s past, especially what they did to other
Kindred or what other Kindred did to them. A lot of times these aren’t nice things.
Sometimes I see pictures of a Kindred’s future and these are always bad things. I think
a lot of us are going to die. I don’t know when but soon.
I don’t like seeing these pictures but I can’t change channels or turn off the TV
because it is in my head. I asked Dr. Netchurch if he could turn the TV off. He says no,
he doesn’t even know what turned the TV on. He says the insight is very important though
and I should tell someone or write down my visions whenever I have them. Dr. Netchurch
is very smart and a good man so I will do this even when the visions are bad.
I think I know where the visions come from. I cannot prove it because I am only one
person (that’s what Dr. Netchurch says) but I know for myself. After we all had the vi-
sion about Dr. Netchurch and Mr. Trimagain we all slept a long time. When I woke up Dr.
Reage hypnotized me to help me remember my dreams. I also remembered what happened when
I was Embraced because it was the same thing.
When I was Embraced I didn’t wake up at fi rst the way Dr. Netchurch says most Kindred do.
Instead I was asleep for a whole day. My boyfriend Kevin must have thought I was really-
truly-dead because when I woke up next night he was gone and I never saw him again.
While I was asleep (Dr. Netchurch calls it torpor) I dreamed I was in Seattle (my
home town) but it was all dark and broken-down and rotten. Then the street broke under
me and I fell into a big storm. While the wind blew me around I saw lots of things. I
dreamed about lots of people and old-time cities. Dr. Reage showed me pictures from books
and I think what I dreamed looked like Rome and Egypt and other places.
I still can’t remember all the stuff I saw in my dreams but I think my TV pictures come from
them. Someone or something reminds me of what I saw and I remember bits of it. I guess other
seers fell into the storm and saw things too. When Mr. Trimagain helped us all remember together,
we must have remembered lots more because many hands make light work like Mamma said.
The last thing I dreamed was that the storm blew me into another city. This was all
skyscrapers of black and stone and iron. There was a parade of people all chained to-
gether walking toward a king who had a burning mark on his forehead. I got scared and
looked around for Kevin but I didn’t see him. I ran around looking for him until I bumped
into a nice old man who called himself Captain Doshus. He said that I was early and had
to go back. He pointed which way to go and then I woke up.
When I was in torpor again after meeting Mr. Trimagain, I dreamed I was back in the
storm. I saw more stuff then but even with Dr. Reage hypnotizing me I can’t remember much
of it. Just that I saw a lot about other Kindred and the older they were the more there
was to see. Dr. Reage says I was asleep for a week but it didn’t seem very long to me.
I know that some of what I’ve seen in visions is real because other people knew about it.
Dr. Netchurch calls this… independent… corroboration. I have a guess about why I dreamed about
the past and future. I remember Pastor saying that God knows everything because He’s outside
everything, even time. When we’re dead in Heaven we’ll be outside time just like He is and
will see the past and future like they were happening right now. That’s what he said eternity
really means. Being in torpor is awful close to being dead. Maybe when I was in torpor I was
so close to being dead that I was outside time a little too. I’m not smart like Dr. Netchurch
but he says he can’t think of any better explanation so that’s what I’ll believe.
That’s all I know. Thank you for reading this. Please help Dr. Netchurch do science
as fast as he can. I don’t think he has much time.
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
29
verify that they sincerely believe in its existence. (I have encountered and exposed two neonates who pretended to be “psychic” in
hopes of profiting from the gullibility of others. Princes who wish to test self-proclaimed seers should contact the local Skeptic’s
Society; its members can give advice on how to debunk paranormal fakers.)
Once more, research subject “Wendy” provides the most interesting speculations. Wendy is ignorant, virtually illiterate and
mildly retarded. She was Embraced at the physical age of 17. Dr. Reage places her mental age as between 10 and 12. On the other
hand, she also has eidetic memory and can retrieve the smallest details of conversations, pictures and other complex events more
than a year later. She also produces insight “phenomena” more often than any other seer (though never of sufficient detail to satisfy
a determined skeptic).
Wendy believes her insight derives from her anomalous prolonged Embrace. Based on her account, she remained “dead” for
approximately 11 hours before awakening as a vampire. All but one of my seers also claims that after their Embrace they lay in
a death-coma for some period. So far, this and their generation are the only common factors I have found among the seers I have
studied. May I remind my readers that correlation is not proof, but it lends at least some credence to Wendy’s speculations.
Hoping to verify at least some aspect of this hypothesis, Dr. Reage and I attempted hypnotic regression on all test subjects
who had a “delayed Embrace,” whether they were seers or not. The results were inconclusive. Most subjects first remembered
a conventional Near-Death Experience (NDE) as documented by numerous kine researchers. Dr. Reage has found that many
Kindred experienced separation from the body, the tunnel of light and other classic NDE phenomena during their Embrace. My
delayed-Embrace subjects, however, claim that they did not return to their bodies right away. Instead they experienced a period of
darkness, terror and a feeling of helpless paralysis or overpowering turbulence. Three subjects also claimed they saw disconnected,
dreamlike images passing too quickly for them to catch any details.
Only Wendy claims to remember any distinct scenes from this hallucinatory state. At this point, I think it best to let her speak
in her own voice. By itself, her statement proves nothing. Nevertheless, I believe my patron and contemporaries will find it…
interesting.
PRECEDENTS IN EARLY LITERATURE
Surprisingly, Wendy’s hypothesis is not as naive as it sounds. This illiterate childe seems to have independently arrived at
a very old idea: In death and sleep, the soul gains a supernal wisdom and vision of the past and future. Several Classical writers
attest to this belief, for instance:
• For if the Daemones be souls and spirits separated from bodies and having no communication with them, as you affirm,
but according to the divine poet Hesiod,
“Are our kind guardians, walking here their rounds,” why do we deprive the spirits and souls which are in bodies of the same
power by which Daemones may foresee and foretell things to come? For it is not likely souls do acquire any property and power,
when they abandon their bodies, wherewith they were not endowed before; but rather, we should think that they had always the
same parts, but in a worse degree, when they were mixed with bodies....
— Plutarch, Why the Oracles Cease to Give Answers, Section 39
• Then the soul is left free to reach out and seek to comprehend things as yet unknown to it, things that have been, are now
or yet to be.
— Plato, The Republic, Book IX
• During sleep, Aristotle says, when the soul is alone, it recovers its own peculiar nature and prophesies and foretells the future.
It is in this state also during its separation from bodies at death. Certainly, too, he accepts the poet Homer as having observed this
fact; for Homer represents Patroclus when he is being killed as prophesying the slaying of Hector, and Hector as prophesying the
death of Achilles.
— Sextus Empiricus, Against the Physicists, “On God”
As any historian of science knows, endorsement of an idea by Classical authors is hardly proof. On the other hand, ancient
philosophers also made some strikingly accurate guesses (Lucian of Samosata and atomic theory, for one). They are at least a
starting point for investigation since, as I have said, at present we have nothing better.
SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS
Can Thin Blood Syndrome be cured? I know of one remedy, from the case (mentioned above) of the 12th-generation vampire
with a novel Discipline. She found her cure through diablerie. I do not think anyone will endorse this as a solution to the problem
of Thin Blood Syndrome.
I urge my readers, however, to view the highest generations as an opportunity rather than a problem. They can play valued
roles in Kindred society — roles that should make diablerie seem much less attractive to them. Surely, all can see the advantage of
new Disciplines in our ongoing struggle to quash the Sabbat and preserve the Masquerade. (Carlos has agreed to teach his “Sleep
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
30
Whammy” in return for contributions to the research fund.) Insight may offer valuable clues to the actions of our remote progeni-
tors; such clues could prove vital to our self-preservation. Murdering seers and inceptors is a criminal waste of resources. Most importantly, the thin-blooded offer a solution to one of the most intractable problems facing elder Cainites: the debility
called “Methuselah’s Thirst,” an inability to sustain oneself on anything but the vitae of other vampires. Well enough; the eldest
among us have wealth, influence and knowledge enough to pay for a herd of young Kindred “donors.” Unfortunately, the elder
dares not feed from any donor more than twice, lest it become blood bound (if the elder does not suffer such a bond already). Thus,
feedings tend to be fatal for the younger vampire as the Methuselah takes as much vitae as it can. Many have heard rumors of de-
generate elders who actually sire childer just to “fatten them up” and diablerize them a few nights later. The thin-blooded, however,
cannot form blood bonds at all. A Methuselah could feed upon a vampire with Thin Blood Syndrome repeatedly, without fear of
binding herself to a neonate. Surely, many of the highest generations would gladly trade their vitae for protection and tutelage. I have heard that in many cities, princes and their scourges strive to exterminate the highest generations. May I suggest, as a
scientist and a concerned member of our race, that this practice should cease. Some quote the Book of Nod to justify their purges,
citing verses such as “Beware those who walk without a clan, for they will be our undoing.” It amazes me that on the eve of the
21st century, such ancient rubbish can still rule the thoughts of so many.
POSTSCRIPT
There you have my research to date, and the conclusions I have drawn from it. I beg my readers’ forgiveness for my letting speculation
run ahead of data, but so many fascinating questions remain to be answered. Can two vampires of the 15th Generation spawn a dhampir, or
must one parent be mortal? Will dhampirs breed true, as revenants sometimes do? What mechanism of speciation produces the thin-blooded?
Can Thin Blood Syndrome be ameliorated by some means other than diablerie? Can insight be induced in other vampires? Can stronger-
blooded vampires become inceptors? I plead with may patron and my distinguished colleagues for further study. Research into the highest
generations may well explain the deepest mysteries of our undead condition, at last giving us true control over the Curse of Caine. I would also like to address certain criticisms of my work. If these persons confined themselves to disputing my data and
hypotheses, I would have no quarrel with them. Science thrives on such constructive criticism. Many of my critics, however, have
slid into gross ad hominem attacks upon my sanity and my moral character. Some have even compared me to those mad butchers
among the loathsome Tzimisce clan of the Sabbat.
Such insults hurt more than I can say. My research has ever been guided by a desire to improve the lot of the Kindred. Just as
other branches of science have improved all our lives and unlives, so may parabiology. Truth, however, does not come easily. It is
never found without struggle and pain. I accept this. I ask nothing of my research subjects that I do not ask of myself. May I repeat: All my research subjects, Kindred and kine, are volunteers. It is true, many protested in fear when they first
heard of the experiments in which I hoped they would take part. Such is the dread which unscrupulous purveyors of superstition
have wrapped around science in the popular media. Yet, when I explained the potential benefits of my work to them, and the
safety precautions I would use, all eventually agreed. None were compelled in any way and I have the release forms to prove it.
Many even expressed enthusiasm at this chance to part the veils of ignorance and help their fellow creatures. Not one has ever
suffered pain that was not completely necessary. Very few of them have to be retired at the end of research, and even that is done
in a gentle and painless manner.
My research is humane. I will open my laboratory to anyone who doubts me. It is the apostles of ignorance who should
examine their consciences.
I remain most humbly and respectfully yours,
Dr. Douglas Netchurch
Childe of Trimeggian
Childe of Addemar
Childe of Lamdiel
Childe of Malkav
HARD-AND-FAST
RULES
This section addresses the various game-mechanical fac-
tors that distinguish the thin-blooded from other vampires.
Main subjects are listed in alphabetical order.
“ANOMALOUS
BIOLOGICAL ACTIVITY”
A thin-blooded vampire can sometimes reactivate part of its
mortal metabolism. Minor effects (such as growing a five-o’clock
shadow, menstruating or feeling hungry for real food instead
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
31
of blood) can spontaneously occur whenever a thin-blooded
vampire expends many blood points in a short time. The most
common trigger is healing an aggravated wound — especially if the
vampire spends a Willpower point to heal more than one health
level of aggravated damage in a night. Such minor, spontaneous
effects are best left to the Storyteller’s discretion.
If a thin-blooded vampire wants to reactivate some mortal
biological function for a night, she can spend a Willpower point
and at least five blood points. (This doesn’t suffer the doubling
penalty that most vitae expenditure receives.) Being seen to spit
real saliva now and then or to need a shave are good ways to
protect the Masquerade or throw witch-hunters off the track.
AGING
Despite “anomalous biological activity,” thin-blooded vampires
normally do not age any more than their stronger-blooded sires.
EATING FOOD
The thin-blooded still cannot digest mortal food or
drink, but they can at least hold it down for a few hours be-
fore they must vomit it up again (a normal vampire vomits
within minutes). If Storytellers need a more definite rule, the
character must make a successful Stamina roll (difficulty 7)
each hour to hold down the food. If the roll fails, she throws
up the food, generally amid a bloody shower of vitae.
Generous Storytellers may allow a thin-blooded vampire
to actually digest food if the player expends a Willpower point
and five blood points to reactivate her character’s digestive
system for a few hours. In that case, the vampire gains no
more than one blood point of sustenance from a full meal
— rather an expensive trade.
PREGNANCY AND CONCEPTION
Only vampires of the 15th Generation can become pregnant
or get someone else pregnant. Deciding when sex results in preg-
nancy is left completely to the tender mercies of the Storyteller. A
vampire who deliberately wants to get pregnant, or to impregnate
a woman, can expend a Willpower point and five blood points
to reactivate the necessary anatomy. She still receives no more
than a 20 percent chance of success, even with all other factors
optimized. The resulting child is born a dhampir, a self-sustaining
ghoul from birth… assuming the conception, pregnancy and birth
take place unhindered.
Such strange pregnancies only have a 50 percent chance of
carrying to term. Otherwise, they miscarry. This rule applies whether
the mother is a 15th-generation vampire or a mortal. The Storyteller
really ought to make this decision according to what would make a
better story, though, instead of leaving it to the fall of the dice.
Can a 15th-generation male vampire impregnate a 15th-
generation female vampire? Intuition says that this can’t happen
— a pregnancy should require a spark of genuine life. Then again,
there’s something wonderfully weird (or disgusting, or horrific,
depending on one’s point of view) about two vampires having a
baby. This possibility is left to the discretion of individual Storytell-
ers. Characters (and their players) should never know the exact
limits of a thin-blooded vampire’s reactivated biology.
BLOOD USAGE
Kindred of the highest generations have 10 blood points,
but some functions cost double the normal number of blood
points. Also, thin-blooded vampires cannot necessarily ex-
pend all their blood points as they please.
14TH GENERATION
14th-generation vampires can use their last two blood points only
for survival through the day, sustaining ghouls, giving the Embrace or
feeding another vampire (for instance, to create a blood bond). They
cannot spend those last two points on Disciplines, raising Attributes or
healing wounds. This is purely a factor of generation, though, regardless
of whether the character has the Thin Blood Flaw or not.
15TH GENERATION
A 15th-generation vampire can spend its last four blood
points only on waking up or feeding another vampire (the former
will never blood bond the latter, though). To use other functions
of vitae, they must have at least six blood points in their system
(remember, every other function has double cost).
WAKING UP
The blood point cost just to survive through the day remains
the same for the thin-blooded: one blood point every evening.
BLOOD BOND
Fourteenth-generation vampires without the Thin Blood
Flaw follow the normal procedure for creating a blood bond:
Feed one blood point of your vitae to a mortal or another
vampire on three successive occasions. Other thin-blooded
vampires, however, can never blood bond another being.
CREATING AND SUSTAINING GHOULS
Vampires with the Thin Blood Flaw cannot create or sus-
tain ghouls. Neither can vampires of the 15th Generation.
DOUBLED COSTS
This rule applies only to 15th-generation vampires, or 14th-
generation vampires who actually have the Thin Blood Flaw. Any
Discipline power that uses vitae has double cost; i.e., if a normal
vampire would have to expend one blood point to use a power, a
vampire with thin blood must expend two. This also applies to rais-
ing Physical Attributes: Each additional dot of Strength, Dexterity
or Stamina costs two blood points instead of one. Healing wounds
also has double cost. To heal an aggravated wound, a vampire with
thin blood must burn through 10 blood points! That’s very bad for
the highest generations; they need to “refill” at least once before
they can finish healing a single aggravated wound.
DISCIPLINES
A 14th-generation vampire cannot learn any Discipline past
the fourth level. A 15th-generation vampire is limited to the third
level of their Disciplines. The only ways to surpass those limits are
Golconda… or lowering one’s generation through diablerie.
On the other hand, vampires in the highest generations can
create new Disciplines. Any vampire of 14th or 15th Generation
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
32
And here are some new terms, ones specifically con-
cerned with the thin-blooded:
• Abactor: Old Form. Literally a “cattle thief,” a
vampire who poaches on another vampire’s hunting
grounds. Thin-blooded vampires often become abactors
without knowing it. Camarilla princes sometimes punish
this behavior as a violation of the Tradition of Domain.
The Sabbat just doesn’t like trespassers.
• Avetrol: Old Form. An obscure word for a bastard
child. Among the Kindred, an avetrol is an illegitimate
childe whom the prince permits to exist, even though
its Embrace violated the Tradition of Progeny. Many of
the thin-blooded are illegitimate. To become accepted in
the Camarilla as an avetrol, they must show some special
usefulness to the Kindred in power (or acquire some really
good blackmail information).
• Cleaver: Vulgar Argot. A vampire who tries to
maintain a relatively normal human family life.
• Cockalorum: Old Form. A vociferous and abrasive
leader of an anarch gang, or any weak vampire who acts
like a big shot.
• Comprador: Old Form. A vampire who works for
some other supernatural being, such as a mage, fae or
mummy; or another supernatural employed by a vampire.
The thin-blooded become compradors far more often than
other vampires do.
• Fluke: Vulgar Argot. Any vampire with unique supernatural
powers, such as Insight, a personal Discipline or a supernatural
Merit. Sometimes this name applies to any vampire.
• Homebody: Vulgar Argot. Another word for a
Cleaver.
• Inceptor: Old Form. The inventor of a new Discipline
or founder of a distinct bloodline (often these are one and
the same). In times past, only Antediluvians and their
childer or grandchilder earned such a title (for instance,
the Assamites regard their Antediluvian as an inceptor
because they claim he invented Quietus). Applying such a
rare and exalted title to thin-blooded dregs of the Cainite
race leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of elders.
• Prometheus: Another name for an inceptor, intro-
duced and favored by the Unbound movement.
• Rastacouere: Old Form. A vampire whose identity
(clan, age or sect) is suspected of being less respectable
than claimed. Example: a Caitiff who claims to be the
grandchilde of a distinguished Ventrue prince.
• Seer: Common Usage. A vampire who receives vi-
sions through the power of Insight.
• Snoop: Vulgar Argot. A less polite word for a Seer.
Also Psychic, Dreamer, Tattletale.
Just to make it perfectly clear: The thin-blooded are the
vampires of the 14th and 15th Generations — also called
the highest or last generations. If a vampire is 14th or 15th
generation, it is thin-blooded, even if it does not actually
have the Thin Blood Flaw. As far as this book is concerned,
thin-blooded and “highest generations” mean the same thing.
Even if a vampire of 13th Generation, or lower, has the Thin
Blood Flaw, however, she cannot create Disciplines, have In-
sight or have the other special abilities described in this book.
Confused? Don’t be — instead, use this lapse in unambiguous
terminology to sow the seeds of confusion in the characters.
The thin-blooded are so new a phenomenon that very few
Kindred have Dr. Netchurch’s degree of familiarity with them
— even thin-blooded characters themselves.
Other terms of frequent relevance to the thin-
blooded include:
• Anarch: A vampire who rebels against Camarilla
authority, but who doesn’t join the Sabbat either. Most
anarchs form small gangs with little power or purpose; this
is the Anarch Movement most Camarilla vampires see. A
few anarchs, however, make serious attempts to find other
ways for the Kindred to order themselves. The anarchs
actually comprise vampires endorsing a wide variety of
social and political platforms, from would-be dictators to
social democrats who want to end the Masquerade and
claim kine civil rights. Many of the thin-blooded are sired
by anarchs and join the movement in turn.
• Autarkis: A vampire who survives completely on
her own, spurning (or unaware of) clan, sect and even
the anarchs. Some of the thin-blooded become autarkis
by default, just because they don’t know about any groups
they could join. When they meet other vampires, they
must decide whether to join their factions.
• Caitiff: A vampire who does not exhibit any clan
traits — neither any special aptitudes for some Disciplines,
nor any archetypal physical, psychological or supernatural
weaknesses. Caitiff are extremely common among the
thin-blooded — but not every Caitiff is thin-blooded
and not every thin-blooded vampire is a Caitiff. (Note
that many Kindred label as Caitiff any vampire who does
not show obvious clan traits or heritage. Storytellers are
advised to remember the difference between Caitiff as a
social phenomenon and Caitiff as a game mechanic.)
• Clanless: A more “politically correct” term for
a Caitiff.
• Unbound: A loose social movement of anarch
vampires who reject traditional dominance by elders and
division into clans. Some Unbound get quite evangelical
on the subject — to the annoyance of other vampires.
TERMINOLOGY AND SLANG
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
33
can create a Discipline, whether she is a Caitiff or not. Conversely,
Caitiff of 13th or lower generation cannot invent Disciplines.
If a thin-blooded vampire lowers his generation at all through
diablerie, she loses her ability to invent Disciplines. She may
continue to develop a Discipline she already invented — and of
course she can still learn new Disciplines from other vampires.
(The Stoneman, a legendary low-generation Caitiff who suppos-
edly invented several Disciplines, must have been a very successful
diablerist.)
Other vampires can learn the Disciplines invented by a
thin-blooded vampire. Naturally, the Discipline always has out-
of-clan experience point costs, and no “normal” vampire character
can begin play knowing a Discipline created by a thin-blooded
vampire. Characters must play through the search for a tutor and
the learning process.
Point costs aside, the Storyteller may impose whatever story dif-
ficulties she wants on learning a novel Discipline (this rule applies to
learning any new Discipline, not just the personal Disciplines invented
by the thin-blooded). Some vampires believe that learning another
vampire’s Discipline requires drinking her blood. A few claim that
diablerie speeds the learning process by capturing and assimilating
the other vampire’s soul. Not that any vampire outside the Sabbat
ever admits to committing diablerie to test the theory.…
See below for a discussion of creating personal Disciplines.
THE EMBRACE
The thin-blooded differ from other vampires in two
significant ways where the Embrace is concerned.
GIVING
If a 14th-generation vampire with the Thin Blood Flaw tries to
Embrace a mortal human, 80 percent of the time the mortal simply
dies. A 14th-generation vampire who lacks that Flaw can Embrace
normally. A 15th-generation vampire cannot Embrace at all.
RECEIVING
Normally, the Embrace takes place very quickly: Less than
a minute after she tastes Cainite vitae, the bloodless and dying
mortal rises again as a vampire. By the 13th generation, though,
the Curse of Caine has weakened so much that sometimes it takes
effect more slowly. Minutes or even hours may pass between mor-
tal death and undead rebirth. A thin-blooded childe might well
remain a corpse for the better part of a night and day, only rising
as a vampire upon the next nightfall. After the childe awakens,
however, it takes normal damage from sunlight. The sun never
destroys a nascent childe, though: An obscure Providence makes
sure that the change never takes place during the day. No one
knows why, though several vampires have made guesses.
More than half of all Seers had a delayed Embrace, compared
to one in five for the highest generations as a whole. Once more,
however, no actual rule determines when a childe has a delayed
Embrace: The Storyteller has total discretion. Delayed Embrace
exists to add drama and mystery to a character’s prelude.
If a character sires a thin-blooded childe in the course of play,
the Storyteller must decide whether or not a delayed Embrace would
improve the story. A delayed Embrace becomes especially dramatic
when the sire has the Thin Blood Flaw: Will the prospective childe
revive, or is she really and truly dead? A delay also adds tension
when an Embrace happens near dawn, and the sire suddenly faces
the challenge of hiding the body until the next nightfall.
INSIGHT
Only the thin-blooded can have the prophetic power
called Insight. What’s more, if a Seer — a character with In-
sight — lowers her generation at all through diablerie, she loses
her Insight. Whatever strange power links the thin-blooded
to the Great Beyond, diablerie breaks the connection.
In rules terms, Insight is treated as a Background. It is
discussed in more detail in Chapter Three.
STAKING
Some features of the thin-blooded stay the same, even
for the 15th generation. A stake through the heart affects
the thin-blooded just as it does any other vampire.
SUNLIGHT
14th-generation vampires suffer aggravated damage and a normal
chance of Rötschreck from sunlight. It doesn’t matter whether they have
the Thin Blood Flaw or not. Fifteenth-generation vampires, however,
do not take aggravated damage from sunlight. Instead they take lethal
damage — the same sort they would take from a blade or bullet. They
can soak the damage from sunlight with their Stamina, without the
need for Fortitude. Sunlight still never inflicts more than three health
levels of damage per turn, even with maximum exposure.
The intensity of the sunlight still determines the difficulty of
the soak roll. Faint sunlight, such as twilight or a heavily overcast
day, carries a soak difficulty of 3; but bright, direct sunlight still
carries a soak difficulty of 10. A botch on the soak roll also still
means the vampire has caught fire and automatically takes extra
health levels of damage thereafter — and this fire damage is ag-
gravated! See Vampire: The Masquerade, pp. 227 and 232, for
the details about sunlight damage and soak difficulties.
Perhaps because they don’t take such serious damage from it,
sunlight also is less likely to provoke Rötschreck in 15th-generation
vampires. Their difficulties to resist Rötschreck from sunlight are
always two less than they would be for other vampires.
As a result, 15th-generation vampires can endure sunlight
far more than other neonates. Bright sunlight is still pretty much
a death sentence, but a quick dash through a shady lobby hardly
bothers them. A 15th-generation Kindred with a good supply of
blood for boosting his Stamina and healing wounds can survive
extended exposures to weak sunlight. This galls older and far stron-
ger vampires, who would burn if a single sunbeam hit them.
Note, however, that fire itself still does aggravated damage to
15th-generation vampires, and may cause normal Rötschreck.
WAKING UP IN DAYTIME
Thin blood gives no advantage in awakening or acting
during the day.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
34
CREATING A DISCIPLINE
So how does a thin-blooded character create a new Disci-
pline and become an inceptor? In a strictly game-mechanical
sense, the player has merely to plunk down the requisite expe-
rience points. That, however, is only the last stage. First the
player and Storyteller must agree on what the new Discipline
can do. Then they must work it into the ongoing story.
THE EASY WAY
The easy way to invent a new Discipline is to give an old
Discipline a facelift. Such Disciplines already exist: Serpentis
has undeniable similarities to Protean, whereas Dementation
has kinship to Dominate. It’s not hard to design other varia-
tions upon familiar Disciplines.
Then again, assorted Vampire supplements have already presented
more oddball Disciplines than any campaign could ever need. Mel-
pominee, Mytherceria, the assorted lost Disciplines from Vampire:
The Dark Ages — players have no shortage of candidates for what
amount to unique new Disciplines. Storytellers need only say that in their
campaign, there’s no such thing as a Kiasyd, a Daughter of Cacophony
or any of the other peculiar bloodlines presented in past supplements.
And if some of the powers in the Discipline seem out of place, one can
replace them with something that has more applicability.
THE HARD WAY
If nothing else seems quite right, the player and Storyteller
can create a whole new Discipline from scratch. Here are some
guidelines — but no examples. With more than 30 Disciplines
in print, additional ones would serve no purpose.
Storytellers should keep in mind that this whole system is
optional! A Storyteller does not have to allow hand-crafted per-
sonal Disciplines in her campaign at all, or can do all the work of
designing a Discipline based upon a player’s general statement of
what the Discipline can do. In case you missed that, or you have
a particularly vehement player who demands that her character
be allowed to create a unique Discipline, we reiterate.
Do not create new Disciplines unless it suits the story or
you suffer a burning urge to do so.
Too often, lazy players define their characters by their clans
or Disciplines, and giving them the impetus to behave thus re-
moves all sense of individuality from the character. A character
should have a reason for her character’s sudden acquisition of a
new Discipline, and the Storyteller should suffer no qualms about
vetoing a player’s bid for a slew of random powers because the
player thinks it would be “kewl.”
DEFINING THE DISCIPLINE
First, the player needs some idea about what the Discipline
will do. Each Discipline has a theme. (For instance, Presence is all
about controlling other people’s emotions, Auspex is a set of sen-
sory powers for gaining information, Protean lets vampires change
form, and so on.) A collection of powers with no underlying logic
to connect them does not make a very good Discipline.
Do try to keep balance with the “standard” Disciplines. In
fact, personal Disciplines probably should stay weaker than the
“old favorites.” Vampires have spent thousands of years refining
the standard Disciplines to make them as powerful as they can
be. Additionally, the value of a new Discipline lies in its ability
to surprise, not to crush all opposition. An arms race between
players to see whose character can invent the most powerful new
Discipline rapidly becomes tedious. (Trust us on this. We’ve seen
it happen and it’s not pretty.)
Next, the player and Storyteller must agree upon the specific
powers gained at each level of the Discipline. You need only two
or three powers to begin with. After all, a thin-blooded character
probably will not get a chance to master even the standard five levels
of any Discipline — let alone levels six and beyond! (Remember,
the higher-level powers require a generation of seven or lower.)
The first level of any Discipline is never very powerful, though
it may be very useful. Look at the standard Discipline set: Talking
to animals, seeing in the dark or getting a second action in a turn
will not exactly make other characters fall down in reverence, but a
clever vampire can achieve a lot with them. Higher levels become
progressively more powerful, though exact comparisons of power
level become difficult. (Is the ability to sink into the ground really
more formidable than the ability to do aggravated damage, but
less powerful than turning into a wolf?) Fortunately, one doesn’t
need to agonize over the order of powers within a Discipline. It’s
enough that the first-level power is the weakest and the fifth-level
power is the strongest.
Finally, the Storyteller must decide upon the game mechanics
for each power. What dice rolls, if any, does each power need? Should
the power cost blood points? Most of the standard Disciplines, familiar
to vampires of many clans, do not cost blood points. The more exotic
Disciplines practiced by only one clan each, such as Vicissitude or
Obtenebration, generally do cost blood points. This limits their use (and
may explain why the “standards” became standard). Unique Discipline
powers should probably cost blood points too, to reflect their lack of
refinement. Only the most lethal or outlandish powers, or powers that
never fail to have full effect, ought to cost Willpower points.
“KILLER DISCIPLINES”
Players and Storytellers may feel tempted to create a combat
super-Discipline. Resist this temptation. Killer Disciplines are less
fun than they might sound because they aren’t good for much
except killing enemies. For neonate vampires (and especially the
thin-blooded), killing anyone who gets in the way is a very bad
strategy. Even if a neonate has the super-mega-über-Discipline-
o’-Death, the older vampires are still so much more powerful…
and sneaky. Open, physical threats only offend them.
Wise vampires do not even gratuitously kill weak, powerless
humans. Remember the Inquisition? The elders do — that’s why
they enforce the Masquerade. Modern police are no joke. If the
police don’t put an indiscreet vampire in jail to watch the sunrise,
the elders will arrange it. Peaceful methods are safer all around.
Considerations of unlife-expectancy aside, Vampire is a
storytelling game. Characters tend to face situations that are tests
of, well, character — not their ability to rack up a body count. A
CHAPTER ONE: TWICE DAMNED
35
character who has no way to deal with problems except killing
someone may soon become frustrating to play.
LEARNING THE DISCIPLINE
Now that the player has defined the new Discipline, the char-
acter still needs to learn it. Even the highest generations don’t just
blow new Disciplines out of their noses. Discovering a Discipline
can become an important part of the character’s story, whether in
the prelude or later on in the chronicle. The player should give some
reason why the Discipline appeared. Did the character deliberately
try to invent a new power? If so, what made him think he could do
STANDARD TABLES FOR DISCIPLINES
As a convenience for Storytellers, here are some com-
mon guidelines for Discipline powers that give the level of
effect for each number of successes. Following this chart
should help an inceptor’s new Discipline stay roughly equal
to the old standards.
DIRECTLY DAMAGING EFFECTS
Discipline powers that cause actual health levels of
damage don’t need a table. Typically, they do one health
level of damage per success rolled. Second-level powers —
or higher — may inflict aggravated damage.
INDIRECTLY DAMAGING EFFECTS
These powers do not actually inflict health levels of
damage on the victim. Instead, they reduce his combat
abilities in some other way. Scorpion’s Touch (Quietus
Level Two), which reduces the victim’s Stamina, is an
example of an indirectly damaging effect. Use this table if
a duration for the effect is needed.
The severity of the effect is often based on the char-
acter’s level of Discipline mastery. Severity may also be
fixed — for instance, an attack that always reduces a Trait
by two, no more or less.
Note that no handicap is truly permanent — at least
not for vampires. If nothing else, victims can raise lost Traits
again with experience points. A vampire can remove many
other indirectly damaging effects if she is willing to suffer
aggravated damage (for instance, putting out her eyes and
regrowing them to cure blindness.)
1 success One turn
2 successes One hour
3 successes One day
4 successes One month
5 successes One year or indefinitely
NON-DAMAGING EFFECTS
Use this table for effects that do not directly cause any
harm. This might be some power that affects the vampire
herself, changes the surroundings in some way, or that af-
fects another person in a non-damaging way. (Dominate
and Presence are examples of such effects. They do not
harm the victim; they merely change his actions and
opinions. Non-damaging effects can still become terribly
inconvenient for the victim.)
1 success One hour or scene
2 successes One day
3 successes One week
4 successes One month
5 successes One year or indefinitely
AREA EFFECTS
Some Discipline powers affect an area rather than a
person or object. For instance, a Thaumaturgical curse could
infest an area with roaches, or a Presence effect might awe
everyone within an area.
One might define an area of effect in terms of radius so
that everything within a circle is affected. Alternatively, one
might prefer simply to say that a power affects everything
within a given area, but the vampire can define the shape
of that area each time he uses the power.
1 success 1 yard radius 5 sq. yards
2 successes 2 yards radius 10 sq. yards
3 successes 5 yards radius 50 sq. yards
4 successes 10 yards radius 250 sq. yards
5 successes 30 yards radius 1000 sq. yards
MULTIPLE-TARGET EFFECTS
Some powers might affect a number of people or other
targets — potentially as many as there are within range.
(The Presence power of Awe and the Animalism power of
the Beckoning set the standards.) In this case, the number
of successes determines the number of people or other
relevant targets affected:
1 success one person/other target
2 successes two targets, or a quarter of targets
3 successes six targets, or half the targets
4 successes 20 targets, or almost all targets
5 successes all targets in the appropriate area
this? Did she study the occult? Or did he just get in a situation where
he needed a certain power a whole lot and, hey presto, he had it?
SPENDING THE POINTS
At long last, the player can pay the experience points for
the first level in the character’s new Discipline. Alternatively,
she can purchase that first dot through freebie points at character
creation. A character should not begin with more than one
dot in her personal Discipline. Later on, characters increase
unique Disciplines just like any other out-of-clan or Caitiff
Discipline.
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
37
The Jyhad is a millennia-old minuet. Its steps and
postures are formalized down to the last turn of the ankle;
the dancers thread around one another with expert grace,
backs straight, eyes distant, now advancing, now retreating,
now changing partners. Lately, however, one can discern a
stumble here and there, not because the dancers themselves
grow careless — though that accusation has been made — but
because the world is shifting under their feet.
To the outsider, all vampires seem irretrievably selfish
and complacent. The truth is more complex: Underneath
those keen self-preservation instincts lie other, equally pow-
erful drives that few Kindred ever dreamed they possessed
before now. Do they stem from ancestral memory? From the
subconscious influence of the sleeping Antediluvians? From
evolutionary programming? None can say, but whatever the
cause, more Cainites fall prey to these mysterious impulses
with each passing month. As long-foretold omens appear
and ancient plots approach fruition, Kindred society spirals
further and further into chaos, until the wildest predictions
of Noddist lore become plausible.
The following section deals specifically with the thin-
blooded: how they see themselves, how they see others,
how they cope. The remainder of the chapter covers a
wider range; it examines the Cainite reaction, not only to
the thin-blooded and the threat they pose, but also to their
own apocalyptic fears.
CHAPTER TWO:
ALAS, THAT
GREAT CITY
And you will know these last times by the Time of
Thin Blood…
— “The Chronicle of Secrets,” The Book of Nod
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
38
BABES IN THE WOOD:
THE THIN-BLOODED
PERSPECTIVE
UNDERSTANDING THE
CAMARILLA — AND
ALTERNATIVES
Thank you for coming tonight. Usually I
don’t get more than two or three people at these
meetings and here we have, what, fi ve?
Maybe you’ve heard a name, the “Camarilla,” and
you want to know what it means. Or it least what it
means for you. I’ve been a vampire almost 15 years
now and in that time I’ve bumped into the Camarilla
a lot. At fi rst I didn’t know what it was either,
but I kept my eyes and ears open. Eventually, I
found other vampires who could tell me about it,
just like I’m telling you now. I’m pretty sure that
most of what I’ve learned is accurate.
I know that to those of you who’ve encoun-
tered it, the Camarilla doesn’t seem to make
much sense. Look at it one way, and it seems
to rule the world. Look at it another way, and
it’s so fractured and anarchic that you wonder
how it lasted a month, let alone centuries. One
night, a Camarilla prince sentences another
vampire to Final Death; the next, he shrugs and
tells a petitioner that he has no authority to
do what she wants.
CAMARILLA OVERVIEW
Let me start with a quick overview of the
Camarilla for the complete beginners. First,
let’s get the name right. The name is Camarilla,
not Caramella, Catalina or Camellia. The word
means “Little Room,” a place for private dis-
cussions. The Camarilla claims to be a society
for all vampires, a venue where they can meet
to resolve their differences and make plans for
their mutual protection. Yeah, right — I can
tell that some of you have already experienced
the Camarilla’s “mutual protection.”
Each major city has a prince. A prince has
four main jobs:
• He or she arbitrates disputes between
vampires. For instance, he works out the bound-
aries between vampires’ hunting territories
and decrees what parts of the city are common
hunting grounds or kept off-limits.
• The prince grants the right to turn a
mortal into a vampire.
• The prince interprets tradition and dis-
ciplines other vampires when they violate it.
As part of this last role, he has sole right to
order the execution of another vampire.
• The prince oversees the Masquerade, mak-
ing sure that the police and the media do not
see a vampire’s indiscretions — or at least do
not publicize them.
Ultimately, a prince has as much authority as
other vampires believe he has. Some princes become
virtual dictators to their subjects, while others
become laughable fi gureheads. If a prince acts
too brutal or arbitrary, though, other vampires
will depose him and probably kill him
A group of elder vampires called “primogen”
elect the prince — I believe, as I have never cast
a white or black stone — and advise him thereaf-
ter. Each primogen represents one of the vampire
families within the Camarilla. The name means
“fi rst-born,” which should clue you in that the
Camarilla operates on a strict seniority system.
The older you are, the more rights and respect
you have in the Camarilla.
It’s not much of a government, but then the
Camarilla only deals with very small popula-
tions. Few cities have as many as 50 vampires.
Such small groups don’t need enormous legal
codes and bureaucracies — just a judge and a
prosecutor. The prince fi lls both roles.
You have a question, sir?
That’s a good question, and I wish I knew
the answer. I know about seven houses in the
Camarilla: Brujah, Venture, Toreador, Warlock,
Malkavian, Nosferatu and Gang-Gel. Some of these
names come from the vampires’ ancestor, and a
few are descriptive terms, but I have no idea
where the other names come from. I’ve never met
anyone else who knew, either.
Each clan has its traditional culture, just
like each tribe or caste would. These nights,
most tribes are pretty loose. Younger vampires —
like us — might not pay much attention to their
bloodline or may even drop out completely. Older
vampires take “clan tradition” very seriously,
though. I’ll have more to say about the force
of tradition later.
• Brujah have a reputation as punks — you
know, the sort of “nonconformists” who all rebel
the same way. I’ve seen plenty of younger Brujah
who wore their black leather jackets and body
piercings like a uniform, but also Brujah who
didn’t fi t that mold at all. According to my
lineage, I’m a Brujah myself, as if I cared.
The few older Brujah I’ve met were all college
Communists, lace-cuff liberals and old-time
union activists — my grandsire still thinks the
South can make a comeback.
The Brujah have no clan-wide institutions,
though it’s not for lack of trying. Many Brujah want
to organize the clan as a union or a revolutionary
party or something, but it would take an act of
God to make fi ve Brujah agree on anything. They
have more sympathy for us young’uns, though.
• Malkavians are even more chaotic than the
Brujah. So far as I can tell, the clan elders
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
39
have no common interests at all. Supposedly,
Malks are all mad: Either they only recruit
lunatics or the Embrace itself drives their
childer insane. I don’t know; I’ve met Malks who
seemed normal enough. The really spooky, beyond-
the-pale Malks look to me like they’re putting
on an act to freak out everyone else. I’ll say
this much: I never met a stupid Malkavian. I’ve
met some who act like idiots, but most of them
scare the hell out of me in a serial-killer-
I’m-going-to-eat-your-fl esh kind of way.
• The Warlocks are the exact opposite of
the Brujah and Malkavians. They have a super-
organized secret society, with hierarchies and
secret passwords and loyalty oaths. Like their
name says, the Warlocks do real, honest-to-God
magic — so they say. I never met one.
• House Venture dominates Camarilla poli-
tics. More than any other family, the Venture
resemble the classic Dracula-clone vampires
you see in movies: Old-fashioned clothes,
high-toned airs, lots of money. Venture select
their childer carefully and indoctrinate them
thoroughly. These vampires deliberately seek
power in both the Camarilla and the mortal
world. While I’ve never heard of any actual
organization of Venture, they track their
lineages closely, and they all seem to know
each other second or third-hand. An awful lot
of princes come from this clan. I think the
name comes from their constant plans to grow
richer or more infl uential: They always seem to
be undertaking some venture or another.
• In a charitable mood, I’d call the Toreador
a clan of esthetes. Most of the time, I call them
pretentious art fags. Older Torries go on about
“cweating and pweserving beauty foah the ages.”
Even the younger ones act nearly as stuck-up
as the Venture. If the Venture are the vampire
equivalent of the ivy-league Old Boy’s Network,
though, the Toreador are the Modern Art Ghetto:
They bitch at each other constantly, but stick
together out of contempt for us uncultured slobs.
Okay, so I’ve met a few exceptions.
• The Nosferatu form a complete contrast
to the beautiful Toreador. The Embrace changes
Nosferatu, making every one of them hideously
ugly. This forces them to dwell in the sewers
and other hidden places. They seem to stick
together, if only from shared rejection. At
least, I never heard of really murderous fac-
tionalism in the clan, but then the Nossies
don’t talk much to outsiders.
Don’t insult the Nosferatu, though: Most
of them can cloud men’s minds through hyp-
nosis, so that you don’t see them. We could
have a dozen Nosferatu in the room with us
and not know it.
• Finally, the Gang-Gel only seem to be a
clan because everyone else says they are. They
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
40
wander like bums or Gypsies, seldom staying
anywhere long. The Gang-Gels I know tell me
that the only tradition they share is telling
each other stories about their travels.
Everyone assumed the Gang-gel belonged to
the Camarilla, even them. Lately, however,
more and more Gang-gel say they don’t belong
to anyone but themselves and the Camarilla can
get fucked for all they care. I don’t believe
stories about the house doing a mass walkout
from the Camarilla. I never saw Gang-gel do
anything as a group.
The Camarilla claims to represent all the
vampires in the world but I know that isn’t
true. I know vampires who say they belong to
different houses than the Camarilla seven —
clans like the Ravnos and the Saturdays.
Yes, ma’am?
• Ah yes, Caitiff. Ugly word, isn’t it?
That’s what Camarilla vampires call any vampire
whose family membership they can’t identify.
To them it means “bastard,” and they use it
the same way mortals use “nigger” or “wop”
or “gook.” Nobody, Kindred or kine, has a
monopoly on bigotry.
A TRADITIONAL SOCIETY
To understand the Camarilla, you have
to realize that it isn’t the sort of modern
nation-state we knew in our mortal exis-
tences. It’s a much older sort of society,
what political scientists call a traditional
society. The Camarilla is a government but
only in the sense that the village elders in
the palaver hut form a government.
I’m getting some puzzled looks. What I
mean is that human tribal or village societies
tend to have certain features in common, so
social scientists group them as “traditional”
societies — as distinct from transitional or
modern societies. I think the Camarilla has
many of these same distinctive features. I’ll
list these features of on the blackboard.
We can go through them one by one and match
them up with what we know — or at least what
I know; please add your own comments and in-
formation — about the Camarilla. Okay? Point
number one:
Ancient Custom
Unlike a modern, democratic government,
the Camarilla doesn’t claim to represent
the will of the people. Nobody votes on its
laws. It claims legitimacy based on ancient
traditions laid down by Caine — supposedly
the Biblical Cain, to hear these vampires
talk — and the clan founders.
The so-called “Six Traditions of Caine”
form the basis of Camarilla custom. Different
vampires give different phrasings of these
traditions, but they work out something like
this: Sires rule their childer; don’t sire
new vampires without your own sire’s permis-
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
41
sion or the permission of the oldest vampire
in the community; don’t kill another vampire
unless the oldest vampire orders it; don’t
trespass on another vampire’s territory; in
your own territory your word is law; and above
all, don’t let mortals know that vampires
exist! Camarilla vampires also have rules
about trading favors, respecting the peace
on designated neutral ground and the proper
way to petition the elders in power.
None of these rules are written down. No one
may suggest that they are unjust or out-of-date
and should be changed. No lawyer will help you
plead your case to the prince. You have no pow-
erful friends to speak on your behalf. If the
prince or a primogen accuses you of breaking
the traditions, you’re pretty much screwed.
Weak Central Government
Among kine traditional societies, local
authorities matter the most. The village elder
or tribal chief’s word carries more weight than
the laws of a distant king or president.
In the same way, each prince has a free
hand in managing his city and is answerable
only to the primogen. That’s why the Cama-
rilla is not the world-spanning conspiracy
you might think. “The” Camarilla only exists
as an abstraction, like “the” business estab-
lishment. The reality consists of many local
Camarillas, completely autonomous in their
actions but united by common practices.
In fact, “government” is probably not
the best word to describe what we’re talking
about, but it suffi ces. From what I’ve seen,
the Camarilla is more like a secret society,
with its own bylaws that it expects you to
know. Basically, the Camarilla is a group of
vampires who think they know what’s best for
you, not some global conspiracy or represen-
tation of the vampires by the vampires.
Let me qualify that. I have heard of rare
“conclaves,” in which vampires from many
cities gather to debate the great issues of
the night, but I’ve never heard that princes
really have to follow a conclave’s decisions
if they don’t want to. Just like human tra-
ditional societies, all the real power stays
local. If you don’t like a prince’s decision,
tough luck!
You, sir. Mr. Cargill, was it?
“Justicars?” I’ve only heard that term twice
and both times with another word: “archons.”
They seem to refer to some sort of judge or
overlord. My guess is that the archons are the
sires of the various princes and primogen.
Archons might be the same as the justicars,
or maybe the justicars serve the archons. They
might be emissaries or assistants.
You heard it the other way around? Doubt-
ful. “Archon” is an ancient Greek word for a
chief magistrate, ruler or president. “Justi-
car” sounds like a mangling of “justiciar,” a
fancy word for judge. “Archon” seems to imply
broader powers. Either way, they both seem
to have authority over princes. I guess even
princes sometimes disagree and need someone
to arbitrate between them. I gather that jus-
ticars or archons also have some connection
to conclaves, but since I’ve never talked to
a vampire who actually attended a conclave,
I don’t know what justicars and archons actu-
ally do. From what I’ve seen, they don’t do
much very often.
Subsistence Economy
Mortal traditional societies live by farm-
ing, raising livestock or some other sort of
subsistence economy. They don’t trade much;
each community provides for itself.
Now, obviously we vampires don’t need to
hoe the crops or chase the buffalo. Just as
obviously, the Camarilla doesn’t need to trade
with other societies; it exists as a parasite
upon human society instead.
The real similarity comes from the attitude
towards land. In many (not all) traditional
societies, a small class or ethnic group
controls all the land and loans it out to
everyone else, according to rank. Isn’t that
what the prince does when he divides the city
into hunting grounds?
If you must enter a Camarilla city, locate
the “open hunting” regions — the Camarilla’s
version of the village green, available to
everyone — and stick to them. Poaching on
an elder’s hunting grounds gives him one of
the typical justifi cations for destroying the
likes of us.
KINSHIP BONDS
This is the most important factor of all.
In traditional societies, you are what your
family makes you. If your father is a farmer,
you become a farmer. If your mother spins
wool, you spin wool. More than that, your
place in the family determines your rank —
and because people keep track of lineages
and marriages for generations, ultimately
the whole society is a gigantic extended
family. Father has authority over sons;
older brothers have authority over younger
brothers; some lineages carry more prestige
than others. Grampa is an important village
elder because, well, he’s Grampa.
The Camarilla pays great attention to family
relationships — based on who turned you into a
vampire and who else he or she turned into a
vampire. Your sire also has a sire and brood-
mates of his own. Continue this and eventually
you have a whole vampire tribe, called a clan,
all descended from a single vampire about four
hundred years ago. Each clan’s traditional
character comes from the founder Embracing
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
42
people who shared his interests. The childer
followed the same practice — and hundreds of
years later, people say, “Oh, Toreador are all
artists,” as if this were some sort of law of
nature. My contacts said that the clan founders
all met Final Death decades — if not centuries
— ago, or just went to sleep and will never
wake up again. At least, that’s the offi cial
story the elders tell.
Beyond even that, some vampires say, the
founders of the clans all descend from a single,
fi rst vampire called Caine. Yes, again, the
Caine from the Bible, but spelled with an “e”
at the end. That makes all the vampires in the
Camarilla distant relatives. I guess that’s
why they call themselves “Kindred” instead of
just vampires. Also, that’s where the story
gets unreliable. If this is the Biblical Caine,
why do vampires only go back four centuries?
Some Kindred speak of a cycle, so I’m inclined
to believe this vampire thing basically burns
itself out every few hundred years, and then
starts anew. Oh, get this: The Camarilla as an
organization (or whatever) doesn’t even believe
in the founders of the clans. They parade around
as if their family was the most important thing
in the world and snipe at each other over fam-
ily rivalry, but they refuse to acknowledge the
families’ founding members. Maybe I’m missing
something, but that doesn’t sit right with me.
Then again, they may just think the founders
are all dead, and I’m misunderstanding their
self-important vampire code words.
That’s the line, anyway. I can believe the
part about clan founders, but not the legend
of Caine. Among mortals, when smaller kin-
ship groups unite to form a tribe they make
up some mythical common ancestor to justify
their alliance. I think the Camarilla did
this. Only the very oldest vampires could
possibly know the truth, though, and they
don’t talk to the likes of us.
What does all this mean to you and me?
In mortal societies, when Grampa dies the
next-oldest family member takes over his job.
Eventually, you might become a Grampa your-
self and get some status and power that way.
Among our kind, though, Grampa never dies.
Odds are, Great-Great-Grampa is still around
and wants to stay in charge. He takes great
care that no younger vampire kills him to
take his place. For a young vampire, then, the
Camarilla is — pardon the expression — a dead
end. You may win some rights if you kiss ass
for a few decades, but you will never have a
real voice in government. In European cities,
vampires 100 years old still follow orders
given by 200-year-old sires, who themselves
bow to a 300-year-old prince.
Most of us are Caitiff and 13th Genera-
tion or higher. That means we’re at least 13
generations away from Caine, according to the
buzz. Exactly how you fi nd out what generation
you are, I don’t know, but it obviously has
something to do with lineage. We aren’t good
enough to join the fancy club because we have
too many ancestors between us and Caine, and
we can’t name them all. For us, the Camarilla
is a mug’s game. Don’t even try to play.
ALTERNATIVES
The good news is that you don’t have to put
up with the Camarilla. In fact, you shouldn’t.
No matter how much they’d like you to believe
it, the elders do not control everything.
The Sabbat?
God, no, Mr. Cargill, I certainly don’t mean
the Sabbat! I don’t know much about the Sabbat,
because those vampires tend to attack anyone who
noses around asking questions. I only talked to
an actual Sabbat member once, and she was nuts.
Absolutely batshit. When she tried to recruit
me, she asked if I’d like to “enjoy” — her word
— a little mutual torture with soldering irons
after she initiated me into the Sabbat. From
what I’ve heard, by the way, Sabbat initiation
involves burial and getting hit on the head with
a shovel. I said it sounded great and she should
meet me in the graveyard in an hour. Since she
would bring the soldering irons, I’d bring the
refreshments for afterwards. Once I got out of
sight, I ran for my car and drove out of town
as fast as I could.
I know this: The Sabbat demands more from
its members than the Camarilla does at its
worst. The Sabbat is some sort of vampire
doomsday cult. Think of Nazi storm troopers
and death-camp doctors crossed with Jehovah’s
Witnesses. They say they’re all about “letting
vampires be vampires”; they actively try to
be inhuman monsters. Maybe so, but I never
heard of any Sabbat atrocity or philosophy
worse than what some mortal did or believed.
I’m told the Sabbat prevents defection by
having everyone blood bound to everyone else
— no, I don’t know how they create multiple
blood bonds, either.
If you meet the Sabbat, don’t run. That
only encourages them, like running from a
dog. Instead, do like I did: Seem friendly
and interested, but make some excuse to
leave. Then run.
The Inconnu
Yes, Ms. Bennett? Inconnu? I’m afraid I’ve
never heard of that group at all. Perhaps you
could tell us something about them?
Hmm. They sound a bit… detached. They
don’t sound like very likely allies.
Anarchs Unbound
No, I’m talking about the anarch states.
I’d like to point out, though, that anarch
just means anyone who doesn’t toe the Cama-
rilla line. To say it properly, you have to
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
43
sneer and be at least 100 years old. It’s a
good name if you want to scare an elder.
Maybe you’ve heard self-proclaimed anarchs
telling you to rebel against the Camarilla —
or at least to tweak the elders’ noses. These
anarchs stand out most, but they aren’t very
important. Why? Because they still operate in
the Camarilla’s shadow. They stick to their en-
emy like Bre’r Rabbit to the tar baby and never
actually achieve anything. I have news for you:
These rebels without a clue only survive because
elders have more important problems. In cities
where princes deputize scourges to deal with
the anarchs, the anarchs are… dealt with.
You don’t believe me? Visit Minneapolis-St.
Paul. I did. You won’t fi nd any anarchs there.
The scourges destroyed them all last year.
I’ll warn you, though, they almost caught
me too when I came to town. Don’t mess with
elders. If a group of them really wants you
Finally Dead, you will die.
Let me guess, you’re an anarch. Sorry, nothing
personal. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.
Autarkis
Getting back on topic… not all anarchs
rebel so noisily. You have more choices than
you might think.
Some vampires go it completely alone.
Autarkis, some call them. The usual autarkis
fi nds a small town or a suburb too remote for
any Camarilla vampire to notice and takes it
as his hunting ground. Sure it’s dangerous,
but many vampires pull it off for years.
Let me give you an example — an extreme
case, I admit. I rode into this Iowa town in
a cattle car, meaning to spend a night hunt-
ing, sleep for a day, then hop another train
for Kansas City. I woke up the next evening
in a jail cell with a sheriff and two deputies
pointing shotguns and a machine gun at me. Not
an Uzi, a real, honest-to-God, belt-fed and
water-cooled machine gun on a tripod. Next to
them, Prince Suzie held a can of gasoline and
a book of matches. Believe you me, it took
some fast talking to avoid becoming vampire
fl ambé.
Turned out, Prince Suzie had blood bound
the entire county sheriff’s department, the
mayor and the owner of a local slaughterhouse.
Her pet cops had machine guns and grenade
launchers, for crying out loud — and silver-
loaded shotgun shells in case of Lupines. The
Camarilla wouldn’t call Suzie a prince (and
she didn’t seem very old or smart), but I’ve
never seen a town more tightly controlled.
She really is a law unto herself.
Cleavers
Other “anarchs” don’t see why they have to
cut themselves off from humanity the way the
Camarilla insists. These vampires let their
friends and relatives in on their big secret
and ask them for help. Sometimes they get
it, too. They hold down real jobs and even
raise families — of course, these vampires
had their kids before their Embrace.
The Camarilla elders would insist that
vampires can’t do this, it’s impossible,
it’ll all end in tears or a witch-hunter’s
stake through the heart — but I know several
vampires willing to give family life a try.
Other vampires in and out of the Camarilla
sometimes make fun of them, calling them
“Cleavers” or “homebodies,” but I think they
are the bravest of us. Even most anarchs won’t
dare to break the Masquerade so completely.
Unbound
Me? I belong to the Unbound. We’re even
less organized than the Camarilla, but we do
think of ourselves as a social movement. We
share an interest in breaking traditions and
fi nding new ways for vampires to exist.
For instance, we reject division into clans.
Even if you believe that story about Caine
and the clan founders, what does it matter?
Training accounts for the supposed aptitudes
for various Disciplines among the clans: If
you spend 20 years teaching childer how to
control people’s minds instead of turning into
wolves, is it any wonder that they become good
at one feat but not the other?
I’d bet my fangs that the various clan obses-
sions and foibles happen because of training, too.
Once upon a time, some neurotic vampires convinced
themselves they had “refi ned tastes in blood,” or
went googly at paintings and fl owers, or frenzied
at the drop of a hat — and they brainwashed their
childer to believe it too. Then those vampires
taught their own childer to believe it, and af-
ter a hundred years or so you have Clan Venture,
House Toreador and the Gang-Gel Tribe.
In modern nights, we can see that “blood-
line traits” are nonsense because so many
young vampires don’t endure decades of in-
doctrination by their sires. I know childer
of Venture sires who can feed on any sort of
person they want. On the other hand, I once
met a vampire who insisted she was a Toreador
but she would feed only upon handsome young
black men. I found that I’m descended from one
of those angry Brujah, but folks tell me I’m
an even-tempered guy. The elders can call us
all “thin-blooded Caitiff scum” if they want:
They just can’t accept that we escaped the
limitations they placed upon themselves.
I even know a few vampires who invented
whole new Disciplines, something the Camarilla
elders say can’t be done ever. Other vampires,
all young and of the highest generations, have
a weird, psychic insight into other vampires’
activities, past, present and future. These
“seers” sometimes fi nd secrets that elders
thought were buried long ago — or that the
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
44
elders didn’t know themselves. So much for
the wisdom of the centuries.
We Unbound also reject the Camarilla’s
obsession with rule by the eldest. We’re
adults, and by God we’ll be treated that way!
Some of us in the anarch states try to adapt
American law to our circumstances, with jury
trials and popularly elected leaders. Others
experiment with completely new and original
social systems. We actually have more rule
of law than the Camarilla does. I can’t say
we’ve succeeded in creating laws and govern-
ments for vampires, but we’re trying.
Long ago, the Camarilla might have made
sense as a way for vampires to govern and
protect themselves, but the world has changed.
I don’t believe the Camarilla can keep the
Masquerade forever. Information moves too
quickly. When the mortal population dis-
covers that we exist, we undead had better
present ourselves as good citizens instead
of parasites. When that night comes, I want
a group ready to lobby Congress on behalf of
the metabolically challenged.
Some of us Unbound even want to reach out
to the other supernatural creatures who must
exist. I’m sure most of you have heard horror
stories about Lupines — werewolves — tearing
apart any vampire they meet? I’ve heard rumors
about wizards and witches, ghosts, zombies,
faeries and even mad scientists, robots and
aliens. If these creatures really exist, I
want to meet them and start a dialogue to break
down whatever ancient suspicions and codes of
secrecy keep us apart… more traditions.
CONCLUSION
Many vampires sneer at the Unbound as
foolish idealists. I never saw idealism as
foolish, not when I was a mortal PoliSci
student and not now. Like the song says, the
times they are a-changin’. The world turns
crazier every night — and more dangerous.
I mentioned the Ravnos clan before. A few
months ago, they apparently all went mad and
started killing each other. I saw two of them,
contacts of mine, ripping at each other until
one chewed out the other’s throat and drank
all his blood. The survivor never returned to
her haven. All my contacts around the country
tell similar stories. I only personally know
one Ravnos who survived that week of mad-
ness, and he had abandoned his clan to join
an Unbound coterie.
The night before the Ravnos went mad, I
had a dream. Maybe you’ll think I’m a nut for
taking a dream seriously. Maybe I am a nut
— except later I met two separate vampires
who told me the same dream. They both had
reputations as seers.
I dreamed that a king walked out of a
mountain. He had ten arms and ten heads. He
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
45
cut off his heads one by one and his remaining
head swallowed them. Then a tiger, a dragon
and some kind of bird, a stork maybe, attacked
him. Finally, the sun came up and they all
burst into fl ames.
My Camarilla informants told me a legend
about the clan founders — a legend that the
elders insist they don’t believe. Accord-
ing to this old myth, some night the clan
founders will all wake up. They will be very
hungry after sleeping for thousands of years.
Because of their incredible age, human blood
doesn’t satisfy them anymore. Instead, they
hunger for the blood of vampires — especially
their own descendants. They will eat all the
younger vampires and ravage the world.
I think my dream was not just a dream.
I think the king was the ancestor of the
Ravnos clan. He woke up. He fought… some-
thing. Maybe other powerful vampires who
didn’t want to become his breakfast, maybe
something else. When he died, really truly
died, something broke in all his descendants
and they went mad.
That’s why I take the risk of going to
Camarilla cities and giving talks like this.
If any other clan founders wake up, they
will seek the vampires they can identify
as their “family” — the vampires in the
Camarilla who so conveniently track their
own bloodlines and insist on obedience to
the eldest among them. I don’t think the
Camarilla will survive.
If we stay alone and afraid, clinging to
the fringes of the Camarilla, we will die
with it. If we work together, though — we
so-called Caitiff and anarchs, whatever other
supernatural beings we can befriend, and even
our mortal friends and families — some of
us might survive.
Thank you for your time. Oh, and Mr. Car-
gill? Tell your master not to bother hunting
for me or the others in attendance. We re-
ally don’t endanger the Camarilla; as you’ve
seen, I want to take these unwanted vampires
off your prince’s hands. Leave them alone and
they’ll just leave.
How did I know? Really, Mr. Cargill.
I did say that the vampires who shared my
dream were seers. They had visions and knew
things they could not know. I’ve never had
visions, but I’ve learned to trust my spe-
cial hunches and I have a hunch that you
work for a scourge. Calm down, folks. Let
him go. He’s a treacherous coward, but if
I’m right he’ll receive a punishment much
worse than anything you could do — if not
tonight, then in time.
That’s it, folks. See you out west! Hey,
anybody know a good, open hunting ground?
Talking makes me hungry, and I could really
go for Chinese.
SELF-PERCEPTION
Thin-blooded are rarely chosen from the elite of human
society; their sires don’t move in such circles. Instead, they
are often inner-city teenagers, cubicle slaves, starving grad
students, struggling artists, hoodlums, temps, day laborers,
single parents — in short, regular people. And they tend to
regard themselves as such, even after the Embrace.
In the clans, a new vampire is taken firmly under his sire’s
wing. Centuries of tradition come to bear as he is taught the
lore, ideology and etiquette. By the time he is presented to
Kindred society, he has been trained to think of himself as a
creature set apart from humanity. But no one performs this
service for the thin-blooded. The average anarch, often a
fledgling herself, is doing well enough just to teach her childe
to hunt — assuming she sticks around to do so (many sires
of thin-blooded vampires, appalled at having produced such
stunted excuses for progeny, disavow them completely).
Players of thin-blooded characters should keep this in
mind. The edgy, tragically hip persona of the typical neonate
may be inappropriate. Remember, you probably don’t know
about Caine, the 13 ancient clans or anything else associated
with vampires. All you know is that you’re not quite like the
vampires in the books and movies. Your mind and soul still seem
to be your own. As far as you can tell, you’re much the same
person you always were… with a few disturbing differences.
VIEWS ON OTHER KINDRED
Thin-blooded vampires’ attitudes toward the sects and clans
vary widely, largely because their contact with other vampires is
so scattershot. Ones who know their sires tend to take their sires’
views for granted until they learn something different, and so
their outlook has much in common with that of the anarchs and
other Kindred malcontents. However, many more thin-blooded
are abandoned, orphaned or estranged. They have no idea what
being Kindred is all about... and trying to learn in a vacuum can
be a terrifying and confusing experience.
Consider the plight of Daphne, a thin-blooded fledgling
who has her first encounter with the Camarilla when she tries
to hunt in a nightclub owned by the local Ventrue. So you
just wander into my club, kill one of my customers and leave the
corpse in my dumpster? Your sire ever mention this little code called
the Traditions? Oh really? Escaping from that fiasco with just
the clothes on her back, she settles in another city, only to
run into a prowling Sabbat pack. Look, a mewling weakling.
Let’s set her on fire and see if she’s got what it takes to join the
true brotherhood. Traditions? Stop talking bullshit before you get
us mad. A few nights later, smudged with soot, she emerges
to find they’ve evidently given up on her. She flees again
to Boston, figuring a vampire could easily hide there. The
Giovanni have their own opinions on her little plan.
She’ll probably be dead before she ever figures it out. Still,
she has good reason to keep trying. The Kindred are a savage
and inexplicably hostile race, but they are also her forebears, her
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
46
family — the only ones who could possibly understand what she’s
going through. Besides, what’s the alternative... to just keep on
slinking around, night after night, in this parasitical existence
and never to know the meaning of it all? This uneasy mixture of
longing and fear is typical. Many a thin-blooded innocent sets out
to prove to herself that she isn’t the only vampire in the world,
only to discover to her chagrin that she’s absolutely right.
ASSOCIATIONS
Association among the thin-blooded, like much else
about them, is haphazard. There are no Washington lobbies,
no support groups, no alt.kindred.high-gen, no sewing circles,
no Pulitzer-chasing journalists to evangelize their plight. How
do they ever find each other? Usually they don’t.
To have sired a frail vampire is generally considered a
disgrace in the clans. Many thin-blooded internalize their
sires’ shame and refuse even to speak to other weaklings.
Instead, they try to earn status by strengthening themselves
(via training or diablerie) and seeking the patronage of their
elders. These tactics rarely succeed. At best, such a youngster
might find a prince or bishop willing to cut a deal: protection
and legitimacy in exchange for eternal servitude and expend-
ability. At worst, an infernalist vampire might consider him
a willing dupe for promises of easy power.
Other thin-blooded take a more express route to re-
spectability — they simply move to a new city and lie about
themselves. This is usually Plan B or C, since a very new
vampire doesn’t know enough about Kindred society to believ-
ably fake clan membership or fabricate a lineage. It can also
be a highly risky enterprise, depending on local attitudes. In
New Orleans, an impostor is often accepted with a nudge and
wink. In London, the rastacouere had better be prepared to
undergo the genealogical equivalent of the Spanish Inquisi-
tion, administered by Kindred who are former heralds of the
Royal College of Arms.
A few lucky bastards (forgive the double-entendre) are
absorbed, if grudgingly, into their sires’ coteries. Sometimes
this happens because the sire insists — sometimes because
multiple vampires in the group have sired thin-blooded
childer. Sometimes, a coterie is so small and powerless that
even a weakling whelp can make herself useful.
Coteries composed entirely of thin-blooded are extremely
rare, but not nonexistent. As seers discover that they can
multiply their clairvoyant powers by cooperating with each
other, they increasingly seek out those who share the gift. In
other cases, thin-blooded are forced together by circumstance
or the machinations of an older vampire.
THE UNBOUND
Elders like to scoff that the whole “Unbound” movement
is nothing but a pathetic attempt on the part of the Caitiff to
define themselves into legitimacy. The Unbound beg to differ.
They disavow the sects, the clans and the age hierarchy. Why
would they seek legitimacy in a system they despise?
Sour grapes, perhaps. But few dispute that vampire legend
can be interpreted to support their heretical notions. Caine
was clanless. He didn’t inherit Disciplines; he invented them.
The Caitiff share these traits with him. What if they really
are to be the chosen instrument of his wrath? As rumors
continue to spread about new and mysterious powers, the
theory attracts less and less hilarity.
Most Unbound happily extend their protection to thin-blooded
who ask for it — to do any less would undermine their passionate
ideology. Unfortunately, however, the movement is still quite small.
Its members devote their limited resources to evangelizing among
the anarchs, especially in the free state of California. thin-blooded
dwelling in other areas have only a slim chance of stumbling across
another vampire, let alone one of their number.
MORTALS
Many thin-blooded have little or no contact with other
vampires. Instead, ignorant as they are of the Masquerade, they
confide in mortals. They turn to their family and friends for help in
dealing with this crisis as they have on countless other occasions.
How should they know any better? Of course, telling someone
that you are a vampire is never an easy thing, and not all mortals
take the news gently. Still, in the absence of any other support, it
might be the only reasonable choice. A few weaklings have even
approached human experts in various fields — doctors, scientists,
priests and psychics — for help in curing or at least understanding
their new condition. The end result is almost invariably silence,
whether willing, coerced or fatal, as other vampires learn of the
hemovore at the local GP’s office and refuse to yield the Masquerade
that protects their unlives.
Occasionally, a fledgling has the questionable fortune to
be discovered by someone who recognizes her for what she is.
Most often, that someone is a vampire-hunter, and thus hostile,
but exceptions are possible. Even a soldier of the Inquisition
might find his world-view sufficiently challenged by a penitent
vampire who can bear daylight to decide that the matter merits
further inquiry. As for government agents or Arcanum scholars,
any interest such folk might take in the thin-blooded would be
clinical at best. However, with patience, a chance meeting could
develop into a profitable working relationship.
OTHERS
Very rarely, a member of some other supernatural race
will stumble upon a thin-blooded vampire. These encounters
generally go badly for one party or the other, unless the super-
natural in question is also an outcast from her own species.
Misery loves company.
See Chapter Four for more information on how to include
thin-blooded characters in a chronicle.
STRATEGIES
Like so many neonates, thin-blooded generally don’t
survive long. Those who do belong to an extraordinarily
tough lot. Compared to full-blooded vampires, they have very
little mystic power. Native cleverness and circumspection
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
47
must take up the slack. Below are a few elementary strategies
employed by the successful (and yes, the wildlife analogies
are intentional).
• Camouflage: Let the lion strut and show his mane;
but if a doe wants to survive, she freezes and blends in. Thin-
blooded who persevere eventually learn that it is far wiser to
stay off the streets and hide their true nature. Many become
reclusive, interacting with the world mainly by proxy, using
their distinctive powers only when necessary. It’s generally
safest to disguise oneself as a mortal, avoiding face-to-face
meetings with other supernaturals as much as possible, but
some thin-blooded have succeeded in taking the opposite
tack, passing themselves off as neonates of the clans, or even
ghouls. (The aura of a thin-blooded vampire, while pale, is
often less so than that of other vampires. It can look very
similar to an older ghoul’s aura.)
• Foraging: Friends are found in the least likely places.
Although the thin-blooded often suffer for maintaining their
old mortal contacts, knowing someone who does data entry in
a government office, for example, or a janitor at a prestigious
office building, or a friend of a friend of a congressman, might
come in quite handy in a time of need. Such resources are
frequently overlooked by the more privileged and snobbish
vampires of the clans, but bastards can hardly afford to be
so picky.
Moreover, thin-blooded have a distinct advantage in
their dealings with mortal associates. They are usually much
younger, much more in touch than the average vampire. Other
Cainites must rely on fear, favors and the dubious emotional
power of the blood bond to secure their underlings’ loyalty;
many haven’t had a true friend since they died decades or
centuries ago. A thin-blooded youngling, however, might have
to work pretty hard to avoid her best girlfriend who’s been
leaving worried messages on her machine for the last three
weeks. Additionally, vampires who feed at the Rack have a
much easier time if their appearance follows mortal trends.
A vampire in her baggy pants and wifebeater T-shirt of rave
culture will have much more luck feeding at a warehouse
party than a potent elder who still affects the silk brocades
of his mortal days as a merchant prince. And she’s probably
less likely to be viewed as suspicious by police, as well.
• Bottom-Feeding: Sustenance, too, must be sought out
in nooks and crannies. In a city where vampires dwell, almost
every square inch of land is claimed as princely domain, pri-
vate turf or both. Vagrants have no “legal” place to hunt, so
thin-blooded must take their prey where it won’t be missed.
Some are lucky enough to persuade mortal friends to donate.
Others skulk in the farthest reaches of the suburbs, or take
victims most Kindred wouldn’t want anyway: the diseased, the
aged, etc. (Of course, most Kindred doesn’t mean all Kindred.
Some vampires consider the downtrodden their rightful prey,
so even a careful fledgling might run into trouble.)
Assuming one can overcome the risk of discovery, the saf-
est tactic is to collect a small group of regular vessels — a herd,
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
48
of course — and stick to it. But doing so is often problematic
for the thin-blooded — they lack the skill with Dominate,
Presence, Animalism, etc., that other vampires use to make
it go more smoothly. Yet, a few enterprising fledglings have
found cozy niches: working the night shift at a small charity
shelter, for example, and feeding on the sleeping residents...
or leasing the space for a free V.D. testing clinic.
• Evolution: Again, the youth of the thin-blooded can
be turned to their advantage. While most anarchs and Caitiff
are also “young” by Kindred standards, many of them have
been vampires for several decades. Thin-blooded, however,
are definitely children of the Information Age, and they can
use that modern savvy to confound and outwit pursuers. Sure,
that Tremere regent can shoot fire out of his fingers, but can
he keep his cool when a live TV crew shows up on his chantry
doorstep? Of course the prince knows how to bury a murder
investigation, but does she know that all her tax information
can be purchased over the Internet? Thin-blooded also find
it much easier to blend in with the Canaille when it suits
them; they know the current slang, the fashionable locales
and the hot topics.
• Running Like All Hell: When all else fails.… Seri-
ously, mobility is another strong advantage the thin-blooded
possess. Kindred tend to become entangled in possessions,
administrative duties and prestation commitments. Some of
them have existed so long that their chances of running into
someone they know in any given place are actually fairly high.
Pride is an even more important consideration — fleeing
one’s domain is traditionally considered a sign of weakness
among Cainites.
But while parting is often emotionally difficult for the
thin-blooded, due to the friends and family they must leave
behind, they face far fewer practical obstacles. Moreover, they
leave a fainter track. Their faces have never made the society
pages. They don’t own controlling stock in this art gallery
or that manufacturing firm. Their friends and acquaintances
are as obscure as they are.
Some thin-blooded hit the road and never stop running.
However, the nomad’s way is neither easy nor safe. Settling
in a small town, one with no other Kindred in it, is a better
solution; but except for a very few elders seeking respite from
the Jyhad, most vampires find it difficult to give up the stimu-
lating bustle of the city. Furthermore, the more remote the
locale, the higher the likelihood of Final Death at the claws
of Lupines and threats posed by other mysterious beings.
DHAMPIRS
Kendall sat on the curb and cried himself sick for the first time
since he was a little kid. It wasn’t that he was hurt bad. There
was a little scrape over his eye, a little salt taste in his mouth, and
they were going away fast. It wasn’t even what had happened to
Julio — well, maybe a little, but Julio knew better than to call
him “faggot,” even as a joke.
It was the way he’d felt while he was doing it. Each blow
had sent a little explosion of joy into his brain, the same soothing
pleasure he got from banging on his drums at home. He’d beaten
his best friend to a bruisy pulp and loved every second of it. He
sniffed at the splash of blood on his jacket sleeve, and waited for
his stepmom to remember to pick him up, and wondered if you
could go crazy at the age of twelve.
Dhampirs start off on the wrong foot in this world, and
things never get any better.
To begin with, the birth of a half-vampire child generally
comes as a great surprise to at least one of the parents. It may be
greeted with elation or superstitious disgust, but never without
fear. For a female vampire, motherhood adds burden and danger
to an existence already filled to brimming with both. She may
have a rough time of it physically — her undead body is hardly
suited to the task. She’ll also have a lot of explaining to do if
another vampire catches her in maternity wear! A Kindred
father may believe that his lover has been unfaithful to him
(after all, it can’t possibly be his); but if he knows better, he
must face a terrible decision. Should he stay, take responsibility
and accept whatever befalls him and his new family as a result...
or should he abandon his own flesh and blood?
Nor is the human parent likely to have it any easier.
Just loving a vampire, knowingly or unknowingly, is enough
invitation to tragedy. The additional strain of raising a baby
in an atmosphere so charged with pain and uncertainty can
break even the strongest spirits. Furthermore, mortal mothers
of dhampirs often develop life-threatening complications dur-
ing pregnancy and labor (whether due to the clash of mortal
and immortal vitae, or more mysterious factors): depressed
immune functioning, hemorrhaging, toxemia, etc.
With so many perils, it’s all too easy for a dhampir to end
up abandoned or orphaned at an early age. Dad runs off and
Mom dies at the hands of the scourge. Or Mom succumbs
to drug addiction and Dad decides his child will be happier
“among normal people.” That is, assuming Dad was ever
told about the baby in the first place. Even if the family is
intact (for now), their prospects for domestic bliss are slim
in the World of Darkness. For one reason or another, many
dhampirs must learn their true nature on their own, while
being passed from foster home to foster home, or holding
down a minimum-wage job to feed themselves and an ailing
grandmother, or serving their time for assault in a juvenile
detention center.
SELF-DISCOVERY
If the thin-blooded are ignorant of their heritage, then
how much more so are their mortal offspring? A dhampir’s
occult legacy usually doesn’t manifest until the onset of
puberty; in addition to all the usual tribulations of growing
up, the child must face a second layer of transformation, far
darker and infinitely more mysterious.
The process varies from individual to individual. Most
simply become aware, sometime during their teens, of a
special reserve of physical strength that they can call upon
— instinctively at first, in times of stress. They may be afraid
of this power and the feral pleasure that accompanies using
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
49
it, or they may be delighted to discover such a useful weapon
against a harsh world and immediately set about finding its
limits. Other dhampirs bloom later. For them, mystical dab-
bling or a sudden encounter with a vampire might be what
it takes to spark their hidden potential.
In any case, once a dhampir is fully awakened to her
supernatural essence, she can never go back. The Blood
forever alters her physically and mentally. Her aging slows
to a crawl (which can be a real social disadvantage when it
happens in early puberty). She gains a limited ability to learn
vampiric Disciplines. She also gains an inner Beast, which,
though mild compared to a vampire’s, is still strong enough
to test her heart and will. In other words, as Dr. Netchurch
so astutely notes in Chapter One, she becomes biologically
indistinguishable from a revenant.
(Note: Biologically is the all-important qualifier. In all
other respects, dhampirs could not be more different from
the freakish Bratovitches, Zantosas, et al. Revenants have a
culture of their own, a skewed outlook that they have devel-
oped over many centuries. Dhampirs nominally belong to the
human world, however imperfect the fit may be.)
LIFE AS A DHAMPIR
Dhampirs come up with a great variety of justifications and
strategies for dealing with their heritage. Some curse their undead
parent and seek to slay him, hoping that such action can cleanse
them of their own darkness; others express their hostility in a
more general fashion by becoming hunters. Some decide that they
must be irrevocably tainted with evil and set about finding a dark
power worthy of their servitude. (Stories have begun to circulate in
Mexico City about a dhampir who firmly believes himself to be the
Antichrist.) Many are either unaware of their vampiric ancestry
or refuse to believe in it; instead, they choose to see themselves
as psychic, enlightened or touched by a cruel deity.
A tiny number have enough contact with their vampiric
parents to learn whatever they may know about the world
of the undead (which usually isn’t much). This can be both
good and bad. On one hand, the support of “someone who
understands” can be of great help in weathering the disturb-
ing changes wrought by Kindred vitae. On the other hand, if
you’ve ever been embarrassed to let a friend meet Mom and
Dad because they dress funny or make bad jokes....
Whatever the particulars, every dhampir must contend
with the same dark legacy. Wielding the blood-strength is a
source of exultant pleasure — a pale shadow of the vampiric
Kiss, perhaps — but also of deadly temptation. Although
dhampirs don’t need to feed as vampires do (in fact, most
profess no taste at all for human blood), lost vitae replenishes
itself only gradually, and the anemic weakness and emotional
letdown that result can be devastating. Some dhampirs be-
come addicted to the rush of using their Disciplines and turn
to powerful stimulants in an effort to reproduce it. Others
discover a far more potent substitute: Kindred blood.
The Beast is an even greater thorn in a half-breed’s side.
True, a dhampir doesn’t often encounter the sort of provoca-
tion that might bring about a homicidal rage; but it takes only
one such incident to break up a romance, destroy a friendship
or scuttle a promising career. And even petty annoyances can
add up. When a 17-year-old dhampir drives home through
gridlock traffic after a day of flunking his classes to find his
girlfriend has canceled their date and the cat’s puking on his
bed, his rage may exceed anything he has ever known.
DHAMPIR AND KINDRED SOCIETY
Dhampirs are a new phenomenon in the World of Dark-
ness. Although legends of half-vampires have circulated for
centuries (indeed, in one Slavic village the entire population
claims descent from a common vampire ancestor, and its
citizens bear the name Lampijerovic — “little vampire” —
in testament to that belief), such stories have been almost
universally dismissed as folk tales. Nevertheless, for all the
scoffing, some Kindred remain fascinated with the idea —
particularly those who died before they could satisfy their
longing for a family of their own. Secretly, lest they incur
the scorn of their fellows, they experiment with the various
methods prescribed by myth: charms, relics, dark Tremere
arts, pacts with the devil, even true love. All to no avail.
Now, suddenly, plain old-fashioned sex appears to be
doing the trick for some. The existence of the dhampir is
still contested by cynics, who suspect some kind of millen-
nial hoax, but to those who have an inkling of thin-blooded
oddities, the idea is all too plausible.
At present, a dhampir who falls into the clutches of a full
vampire will most likely be mistaken for a revenant or a masterless
ghoul — hardly cause for joy, perhaps, but good fortune indeed
compared to the lot of the dhampir who is recognized for what she
truly is. To Camarilla vampires, she is the ultimate Masquerade
breach: an elemental and irrevocable mingling of Kindred and
kine. To vampires of a scientific bent, particularly Tremere or
Tzimisce, she is also an intriguing development in Kindred biol-
ogy, and thus a prime subject for experimentation (her parents
can expect to attract such interest as well, since they obviously
must be unusual specimens themselves). To Sabbat and other
die-hard Noddists, she is an ominous portent of doom — which
may not be her fault, but killing the messenger is as honored a
tradition among vampires as among mortals.
A few Kindred, mostly elders who matured in times of
greater religious faith, might take a more enlightened view of
her emergence. To them, the spectacle of true life issuing from
the withered loins of a vampire can only mean one thing: God
is forgiving, and He has sent this miracle to show the Cainites
that redemption is possible even for their cursed race. They
may well honor her as a sort of living relic. But these Kindred
are the ones she should fear most of all; a reluctant messiah is
a perilous thing to be, and the same fanatics who appoint her
High Priestess of their Gehenna cult tonight might decide
tomorrow that she looks better atop the altar than behind it.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
50
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THE WORM TURNS:
KINDRED SOCIETY IN THE FINAL NIGHTS
Wisest and most esteemed sire —
I have a birthday surprise, of sorts, for
you in this commentary. Long overdue, I know,
but I think you will agree that it was worth the
wait — for we have managed to contact an old
source I daresay you thought you would never
hear from again, and added his observations to
the pot. Bon app tit, and I will be expecting your
additions shortly —
— Beckett
Beckett:
I hope you understand this is only a rough draft. Several
important facts still require follow-up and confi rmation, and
politics are catching up with me again. Nonetheless, since you
begged so shamelessly, I went ahead, et voilà. I think you will
fi nd that my conclusions agree remarkably with your fi ndings in
Westminster. Just be sure this never fi nds its way into the hands
of that bitch Ayisha...–Lucita
A string of symbolic allusions; the raven is a traditional bearer
of omens, especially for ill, and the stagnant air just before a
storm signifi es looming trouble. As for the towers, possibly a refer-
ence to the hubris of Babel? — Lucita
Not possibly! Although they went to ground long since, there are those among
our race who remember the blindness of Babel’s architects, whose great folly went unseen
by them their until it was too late. Thus was the Original Tongue split, and confusion
sown among Sethite and Cainite alike. The time for confusion is clearly come again.
— Nahir
“The Signs of Gehenna” (BoN: CoS 1-88, Marrakesh Codex, Pehlavi trans.) — An Exegesis
Reliable sources for Noddist scripture are, of course, as rare as reliable Caine sightings.
When found, they are without exception obtained and hoarded by the very eldest among us.
Furthermore, even paleographers of unimpeachable probity and integrity disagree on au-
thentication methodology. For these reasons, establishing a stemma for the Book of Nod, to
say nothing of the apocryphal Revelations of the Dark Mother, Proverbs of the Akkadian Sage,
Delphic Visions, and Overseer’s Accounts, remains intractably problematic.
The Marrakesh Codex, however, is the exception that proves the rule. Although it contains
only 24 of the 52 known sections of the Book of Nod, Cainite scholars are in remarkable agree-
ment as to its provenance and antiquity, the latter of which was recently proved through
radiocarbon dating.
Furthermore, the keepers of the three extant copies of the Codex (two of which are in
Byzantine Greek, and the other — the oldest by centuries — in Pehlavi) have been notably
generous, if selective, in allowing Kindred specialists to examine both microfilms of the manu-
scripts and the physical codices themselves. The physical examinations, in particular, have
revealed an unexpected wealth of information, especially the recent recognition of Greek 1 as
a palimpsest that supports several theories first put forth by Aristotle de Laurent in his famous
Notes on the Epigraphy of the First City. However, that is a topic for a separate essay.
The following is an exegesis of “The Signs of Gehenna” as it appears in the Pehlavi trans-
lation, including my own commentary as well as that of Beckett of the Mnemosyne and Nahir
of the Lasombra, both eminent Noddists. (Beckett and de Laurent have examined this prophe-
cy at some length themselves in their Annotated Book of Nod, to which I wholeheartedly refer
the beginning student.) Disagreements on such a subject are only natural, and in the interests
of fairness, I have refrained from editing the comments even for stylistic consistency.
Codicology has dated the Pehlavi MS to ca. A.D. 530. Fourteen different scribes contrib-
uted to the work, which is an explicit attempt to assemble all the known First and Second City
lore, and many of the sections, including this one, purport to have been taken directly from
the fabled Ashur tablets (only fragments of which are now extant).
Slashes in the text indicate the original versification, which is evidently faithful to the pre-
sumptive Enochian version — or, at least, it bears no resemblance to known Pehlavi or Greek
poetic meters.
* * *
The Signs of Gehenna (Part 1 of the “Chronicle of Secrets”)
Quiet! Hear the raven’s cry!/The stillness of the wind/rising hot on the street/the towers
hide/the darkness of the day.
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
51
When Lasombra’s dreams come true/on the
day when the moon runs as blood/and the sun rises
black in the sky/ that is the day of the Damned/
when Caine’s children will rise again.
And the world will turn cold/and unclean
things will boil up from the ground/and great
storms will roll, lightning will light/fires, animals
will fester and their bodies, twisted, will fall.
Possibly, however, a physical reference
to the skyscrapers of modern times. Inter-
estingly enough, I have heard tales from a
Gangrel source about wandering raven-men
with an uncanny knack for foretelling doom.
Whatever the truth of that, we should watch
our fellow supernaturals as closely as pos-
sible — they may know something we don’t.
— Beckett
This, too, is fairly typical apocalyptic imagery — plagues
and natural wonders. The blood-moon and black sun suggest
eclipses, perhaps unusually close together… but viewed from
where? (Perhaps the site of the First or Second City?) The “world
turning cold,” etc., could possibly be metaphorical, but might
indicate a change in global weather patterns. Given that tempera-
tures worldwide are currently on an upswing, such an interpretation
would imply that we have some time. — Lucita
”The fi rst part of us” — sobering words for elders; this
seems to confi rm the long-held suspicion that only the strongest
blood can satisfy the thirst of the Ancients. — Lucita
This verse has spurred at least a hundred ill-fated quests
for the site of the First City. Although half the Middle East has
now been dug up, scried and otherwise explored, we still have no
better guess as to its location than we did in the Middle Ages. Even
advanced techniques like satellite surveillance and underground
sonar have failed. If the city was indeed destroyed in a great
deluge, the waters did their work well. However, the reference to the
throne may yet help to narrow down the geographical area. Basalt is
a common enough mineral, but northeastern Jordan and Galilee are
famous for their black basalt (see the next verse), and it has been
used as a building material there since ancient times. — Lucita
One wonders why the Father would wait for the doom of the sun before calling
his childer together, why he would not first thwart the evil of my grandsire. That he should
wish to punish his wicked progeny, this is understandable; but throughout scripture he is
most protective of the mortals. I cannot credit the idea that he would allow so many
to die in cataclysm through simple tardiness. Thus, I am led to believe the Father is
presently trapped by some mysterious vexation, and will be unable to return until freed
on the second night. Other records I have seen support this theory, but regrettably I am
honor-bound not to quote them. — Nahir
Personally, I am more inclined to re-
gard this passage as mythic symbolism. The reference to a sequence of “days,” which
continues into the following verses, harks back to the “seven days” of Hebrew cre-
ation lore. Likewise, the Dark Father on his Black Throne is an obvious derivative of
various lord-of-the-dead fi gures, such as
Hades or the Yama Kings, who render judg-
ments on the fate of souls. — Beckett
So, too, our grandsires will rise from the
ground/they will break their fast on the first part
of us/they will consume us whole.
To give natural cause to the night of the Reckoning is like asking the wagon to
pull the mule. These signs will appear, I believe, because of the action of my grandsire’s
great power. I know his might firsthand, and I tell you this: When he chooses his time
to throw a shadow over the sun, it will be done as he wills. He will feed that great
light to the Void, and none of our ilk will be able to stop him. This, above all, is why
we must find the other Ancients. — Nahir
The “unclean things” are generally taken
to mean torpid Antediluvians, but I believe
it is high time that other theories were
examined. The Nosferatu have long complained
about the underground pollution problem, and
especially when one considers the muta-
genic properties of some types of industrial
waste, it may be that we are dealing with the
emergence of a completely new threat rather
than the reemergence of an old one. The
reference to dark and cold, the obscuring of
the sun and moon, could also be interpreted
as nuclear winter. Oh, and Nahir: Your grand-
sire is dead. — Beckett
And Caine will call aloud the names of those to be
destroyed/for their crimes are too great/and all those
who have consumed the heart’s blood of their sire/will
be brought before the Black Throne/and made to drink of
Caine’s blood/and Caine’s blood will eat their blood.
And the Dark Mother herself will be brought forth/
and there, in the valley of Enoch, will there be a battle/a
duel of Dark Father and Dark Mother/the demon queen
will bite deep/the damned king will bite deeper/we will
not know the thing which will happen/but the sky will
tear apart, and the earth below/and the forces of Hell
will pour up out of the ground.
On the second day, Caine will return/and call his
children to the meeting place/on the site of the First City
he will beckon/them, sitting on his basalt throne.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
52
This is one of the most confusing parts of the prophecy.
According to the second verse, the sun turns black on the very fi rst
day of the Gehenna. How then can it “gutter” a millennium later?
Is the fi rst instance meant to imply a temporary darkening only?
I also wonder whether the scripture is really speaking of the last
mortal woman ever to be born — a shuddersome idea for those
who must have the living for sustenance. Perhaps a more special
inheritance is implied. As to the “mark of the moon” — the moon
has many faces, many aspects which are constantly in fl ux. My
poetic instinct tells me that if the Last Daughter signifi es a real
person, she will somehow share this characteristic. Perhaps a
multiple personality? — Lucita
I know that many among the Cainites already seek this woman, to kill or command
her. I say to you now: Let her be! She will be moved by one even more powerful than our
Dark Father, and to attempt to wrest control from that One will surely doom you. By the
time the Last Daughter is born, if you yet walk the Earth, you too will be praying for
surcease. Only through Eve’s daughter shall Eve’s sin be redeemed. — Nahir
A thousand years is a suspicious
number, far too neat and tidy. Obviously,
it is symbolic, but whether it indicates
a near-millennium or merely a period so
dreadful that it seems a millennium re-
mains to be determined. Oh, and Nahir:
Your grandsire is still dead. — Beckett
On the third day/there will be silence/the
crows will feed on the carrion/plague will dance
amongst the ruins/the last of the Wild Ones will
leave this place/the last of the Moon-Beasts will
fight/and fall/and the Antediluvians will make
for themselves an empire of blood.
They will rule with iron talons/they will wrench the
hearts of all still alive/and the full sum of the earth’s living
will come/and live in the Last City, called Gehenna.
And there will be a reign of one thousand years/
and there will be no love, or life, or pity/the mighty
will be as slaves/the virtuous will be made foul/every
good gift, and every perfect gift will be tainted/by
the Father of Darkness, whose power will come from
the nether realms.
Frequently quoted in debased form at the start of a Blood
Hunt, the fi rst verse above emphasizes a point made over and
over in Noddist scripture: that Caine hates warfare and murder
among his childer more than any other crime. The second verse
seems to be a clear reference to Lilith, whose role in our origins is
hotly debated, and further implies an antagonism between her and
Caine that is unique in Noddist scripture. When did they become
enemies? And is “deep”/“deeper” merely a poetic structure, or
does it serve to indicate that Caine is the stronger of the two and
will likely prevail? — Lucita
Interesting, the reference to plague “dancing amongst the
ruins”… One is put in mind of images of the Danse Macabre, but
this prophecy long predates that medieval metaphor. — Lucita
Despite the superfi cial resemblance this verse bears to
mortal apocalyptic traditions (thousand-year reigns, etc.), it
would be wrong to dismiss these dire and bitter laments as mere
poetry. Whatever else it means, the scripture quite clearly states
that it is the Antediluvians who will assume control of the Last
City. What, one wonders, happens to Caine? Will he abdicate
once again after making his judgments, leaving the Earth to his
childer’s depredations? Will he be killed or subjected to the
Amaranth? Who is the Father of Darkness, if not Caine? Might
it be that some other Antediluvian will manage to usurp our pro-
genitor’s power, perhaps with aid from the “nether realms” (i.e.,
Hell or its equivalent)? — Lucita
The Bahari will disagree on that point, my dear. In their fantasies, it is she who shall punish him and his childer for the wrongs he did her in the Third Garden. That the
scripture says she is “ brought forth,” like a criminal or a sacrifice, suggests to me that she, too, has been imprisoned; although I have also heard it argued that the phrase is meant to convey her springing newborn out of the waters of the Earth. — Nahir
Some scholars have interpreted the verse just as Lucita says, and have come to the
conclusion that the ancestor of the Baali or the Giovanni line will be the one coming to rule
all in the Last City, enslaving even the other Ancients. I would respectfully point out that
my grandsire, too, matches the epithet. — Nahir
When the snows consume the earth/and the sun
gutters like a candle in the wind/then and only then
will there be born a woman/the last daughter of Eve/
and in her there will be decided the fate of all.
And you will not know this woman, except by the/
mark of the moon on her/and she will face treachery,
hatred, and pain/but in her is the last hope.
One shudders to think how long this
supposed recitation of the condemned would
actually take… Nevertheless, many Kindred
take this passage extremely seriously and
claim that Caine’s judgment will wipe out some
clans (usually the Assamites, Tremere, and
Giovanni) completely. — Beckett
Again, I say we should defi nitely monitor
the other supernaturals for signs of exo-
dus or large-scale mobilization. Although
I fi nd it implausible that both the fae and
the Lupines could disappear completely from
the Earth they have so long inhabited, the
warning is well taken in its larger sense.
— Beckett
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
53
Indeed, many seek the Last Daugh-
ter, though it seems quite clear from the
prophecy that her time has not yet come. Nor
are there less than a hundred possible in-
terpretations for the “mark of the moon”
— everything from a physical birthmark to
Lupine blood. It is my own contention that
the Last Daughter represents the higher
soul of mortal man; the prophecy is try-
ing to tell us that humanity, with all its
weaknesses and contradictions, will yet be
the ultimate source of salvation for the
Cainites. In fairy tales, the hero/hero-
ine whose purity eventually conquers all is
often the youngest child of the family. “La
belle et la b te” (“Beauty and the Beast”)
is only one modern example.
— Beckett
And you will know these last times by the time
of thin blood/which will mark vampires that cannot
Beget/you will know them by the Clanless/who will
come to rule/you will know them by the Wild Ones/
who will hunt us even in the strongest city/you will
know them by the awakening of some of the eldest/
the Crone will awaken and consume all.
You will know these times, for a black/hand will
rise up and choke all those who oppose it/and those
who eat heart’s blood will flourish/and the Kindred
will crowd each to/his own, and vitae will be as rare
as diamonds.
Clearly, some of these signs have been fulfi lled already. We
have witnessed the advent of vampires who cannot sire; certainly the
murderers among us fl ourish — though it seems thus, perhaps, to all
people in all times; the cities are hazardously overcrowded; and the
rumors of stirring Ancients are thicker than ever, even if most remain
unproven. (Chief among such rumors is, of course, the one regarding
the progenitor of the Ravnos clan. I feel obliged to remind the reader
that no direct account of the affair has yet emerged. However, the
behavior of his childer in the wake of the alleged events is certainly
disturbing enough in its own right.) Fortunately, I have found no
evidence of the other omens mentioned in the verse. The reference
to the Crone is particularly puzzling. A Crone is often mentioned in
biographies of Caine, but she is without exception killed by story’s end.
Could this be an archetype, a symbolic representation of Fate or long-
forgotten Kindred lore? — Lucita
I agree that not all these omens have come to pass; soon, though. They say the Wild Ones walk
among us again, though they have not yet moved to war. As the vagrants multiply, mortal herds must grow
scarcer. Of the Black Hand, that cowardly death-cult, however, I will say this: This passage was well
known to Cainite scholars long before those fools named themselves. Be not terrified of a word! They hope
to make themselves the instrument of holy vengeance, but true manus nigrum shall confound them along with
all the rest of our race. — Nahir
The verse about the clanless “coming to
rule” has been under considerable debate of late.
Some argue that the handful of Caitiff princes
who have come to power in recent years mark the
fulfi llment of this sign. Others, however, believe
that this is a timely warning of the dangers of
the resurgent Anarch Revolt; that if we are not
prudent, the unwashed hordes of disinherited
childer could overwhelm us all. As for the Crone,
my distinguished sire claims that a tome shown
him in Boston by an avowed Lilin puts forth an
alternate interpretation. According to that source,
the Crone was actually an aspect of Lilith (a
similar claim is made regarding the Serpent of
Eden), and she only feigned her death in the
rising sun. I make no claims for or against the
idea; I merely include it in the interest of bal-
anced inquiry. It has also been proposed that the
Crone refers to Baba Yaga, the legendary Slavic
witch whom many Nosferatu claim as their ances-
tress. — Beckett
It is not Baba Yaga. — Nahir
Mark these signs, they are/coming! Gehenna/
will be on earth.
Mark the shadow which flies/mark the dragon
which rises/mark the darkness which moves/mark
the shadow of the moon/mark the angel that dies/
mark the maiden who weeps/mark the children
Embraced/mark the Clanless who run.
Here, alas, the prophecy becomes frustratingly vague. The
“dragon” has been taken by some scholars to refer to Vlad Dracul;
but should that worthy yet exist, I must inform him that he is far from
the only immortal to bear this epithet. Dragons, in Western culture,
are frequently representative of Satanic power, as are shadows and
darkness. On a possibly misleading note, however, I will mention that
there was a recent account in a Midwestern American newspaper of
an angel sighting, wherein the heavenly creature was found, fallen,
on the roof of a bank building, and faded into nothingness shortly
after discovery. — Lucita
Lucita does well to criticize this verse; the prophet is not of much aid to us here.
Maidens have wept for millennia, and no doubt angels perish nightly in their fight against the
great evils of the world. However, at the risk of repeating myself like a doddering old man, I
will point out that shadows again figure prominently in the poetry. — Nahir
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
54
Clanless, all, they will know secret ways/
Clanless, all, they are Lilith’s foul get/Clanless,
all, they are newly awake/Clanless, all! No family,
no sign, no/loyalty, no elder.
Beware those who walk without a clan/for
they will be our undoing/pity them! Adopt the
orphans where you can/but watch them. In them
is the bad seed/of their sire.
The reference to Lilith here is unexpected and deeply disturb-
ing, especially in light of recent discoveries about the clanless. In
Noddist lore, Lilith is frequently credited with granting Caine the
ability to work his vampiric powers into any form he might choose. It
is now becoming apparent that like him, some Caitiff are capable of
devising completely original arts of the Blood. From what forbidden
font do they drink? — Lucita
Let every prince carve these words into the walls of his house. — Nahir
I have heard of Lilith-cults who,
encouraged by this fi nal passage of the
prophecy, now actively seek out Caitiff and
weak-blooded orphans. Disturbing indeed!
In any case, it is an undisputed fact that
Caitiff are more vulnerable to recruitment
by the Sabbat and other violent groups. My
sire may call me an agnostic, but I would
like to state here that I do indeed believe
in Gehenna. Very real disaster looms over
us, and we hardly need the action of long-
dead and mythical ancestors to bring it
to fruition. As the prophecy so eloquently
tells us, we have planted the seed of our
own doom. Natural law will ensure that we
reap our reward in due time. — Beckett
Alas, there are now far too many to adopt, though at one time these wise words of
the prophet may have staved off destruction. I fear the clanless will, indeed, be our undoing,
and the blame will be ours for falling from the word of our Father.
— Nahir
And there will be a time/when sire will drive
out childer/when sire will abandon childer/
to the sun’s mercy/and there will be no mercy
for the Clanless/there will be no mercy for the
Clanless, mongrel though they be/upon their
forgotten sires/shall be the curse of Auriel/upon
their hateful sires/shall be the curse that comes
of crossing Caine/upon their lazy sires/shall be
the curse of the hunters hunted.
Those among the Clanless will have no/path to
follow/no family to name/no generation to hold/no
traditions to keep/no customs to give/no hospital-
ity to give.
Why do you make these orphans?/Why do you
leave them in the street?/They are the dark seed of
our undoing/they will band together with those who
hate us/they will follow Brujah’s childer/they will make
the blood run red/they are going to kill the dead/they
are going to eat our kin/they will scream and bash our
doors/they will cry aloud for justice.
It is chilling to feel, in these words so anciently spoken, the
sense of urgency that comes to us across the centuries. Now there
is cause for such urgency, but we can only ask if it is too late to
act. The literal repetition of a phrase, as in this verse, generally
denotes intensifi cation: There shall be no mercy for the clanless.
The “curse of Auriel [Uriel],” for those unfamiliar with Caine
biographies, refers to the death-angel’s warning to Caine that his
childer would always be plagued with warfare and murder. No
surprise there. — Lucita
In bygone nights, “hunters hunted” was taken to mean the witch-hunters, those
mortals in all times and places who know of us and refuse to abide us. Now,
however, the phrase is much quoted by those who wish to revive the ancient tradition of
the scourge. — Nahir
No one would take you for a dotard,
kasho, but I think that laying the blame
for this particular omen on the Lasombra
clan founder is somewhat premature. Some
Kindred point to the injunction to “mark
the shadow of the moon” as yet another
clue to the advent of the Last Daughter of
Eve. They deduce from this verse that the
“mark of the moon” mentioned earlier re-
fers to the time of her birth rather than
a bodily mark — perhaps a lunar eclipse?
However, this theory is quickly losing
ground to a new one concerning the infa-
mous Red Star, which appeared mere months
ago following all the turmoil with the Rav-
nos clan. At the time it fl ared into life, or
so the witnesses say, it was so close to
the dark edge of the moon that it almost
seemed to be within the moon’s shadow. —
Beckett
“The sun’s mercy” may have a dif-
ferent meaning for those weak-blooded
childer who, if current rumor may be
believed, can endure the sun’s rays… but
this is idle speculation. — Beckett
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
55
avert doom by destroying the Ancients before they have a chance
to rise and slaughter their way back to strength. Unfortunately,
the quarry is wily. For any one clan father, there are generally
several remote sites (all jealously guarded by self-appointed
protectors) that purport to be his tomb. The cult can ill afford
to squander its resources for such uncertain results, and so, to
date, it has made no direct attacks on any identified sites. Its
members seem content to pore over the data and engage each
other in academic duels; when pressed, they tell their initiates
that fate rewards the patient (and in all fairness, it must be
admitted that they now possess the most extensive library of
Kindred archaeology in existence, which they might even allow
a respectful outsider to peruse — for a price).
During the 19th century, some of the more restless mem-
bers of the cult finally grew tired of their fellows’ plodding,
scholarly approach. Even if the beings resting in the tombs are
“only” Methuselahs, they argued, killing them takes valuable
ammunition away from the Ancients. A major split occurred
in 1898, when these dissidents seceded from the main cult
and established themselves as a separate faction. In a fit of
unbridled one-upmanship, they renamed themselves “The
Imperial Order of the Master Edenic Groundskeepers” and
set about gathering the recruits and weapons needed for a
full-scale assault on the purported tombs — all 62 of them.
Their score so far: eight Methuselahs slain, three Methuselahs
awoken, including a Toreador who, lost to the Beast, has since
gone forth to wreak havoc in eastern Europe.
The advent of the thin-blooded hasn’t impressed the
Groundskeepers as much as one might expect. Both fac-
tions of the cult feel they have far more important concerns
than herding a bunch of useless neonates in one direction
or another — omen or no omen. Still, even the most oblivi-
ous Groundskeepers have now heard of thin-blooded with
mysterious powers of second sight, and that does interest
them. The cultists have employed similar methods in their
search before, of course, but actively probing the secrets of
the Antediluvians with Auspex can be a deadly enterprise;
conjured spirits tell lies and evade the questions put to them;
and even the most straightforward Malkavian auguries gener-
ally make sense only in retrospect.
At present, the conservative faction finds itself frozen by
indecision, torn between hope and fear. On the one hand,
perhaps these seers could lead the cult to the tombs of the
Ancients, who could then be destroyed while still weakened
(which is certainly a relative term) from the long fast. On the
other hand, psychic connections are notorious for working
both ways. If the thin-blooded receive their visions directly
from the Ancients, it would not do at all to encourage contact.
In fact, it might be best simply to exterminate the younglings
altogether. Without the thin-blooded, there can be no “time
of thin blood,” and without that, it’s just possible that the
Antediluvians will miss their cue and stay in torpor a while
longer. At any rate, the cultists hardly want their enemy to
gain intelligence on their plans.
HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE
From their outward behavior, one could easily conclude
that the Kindred, as a race, are dead to the mystical. The average
elder seems preoccupied with treachery; the average neonate
seems preoccupied with surviving. The Sabbat, for all its talk
of holy war, wastes much of its energy on pointless orgies of
violence. And the Camarilla officially ridicules anyone foolish
enough to believe in cannibalistic forefathers, thousand-year
reigns of evil, girl-saviors or any other such nonsense.
Yet some of the same elders who naysay Caine sight-
ings in salon on Friday spend all night Saturday procuring a
victim for their Gehenna cult’s winter rite. With each new
omen, the ranks of these secret fanatics swell tremendously.
Meanwhile, other vampires who thought they’d transcended
their mortal fears of damnation ages ago find that they have
overestimated themselves. More than one ancilla has been
astounded recently to find her jaded sire sitting in the back
pew at evening Mass, prostrated on a prayer mat at midnight
or visiting Gypsy fortunetellers on the sly.
To some extent, it’s only natural that elders should be
troubled by the latest portents. Many were raised in deeply
religious (or, at any rate, superstitious) cultures. Although they
might have questioned their youthful beliefs in the centuries
since, the subconscious programming remains, awaiting only
the right circumstances to emerge. But younger vampires suc-
cumb to Gehenna-madness almost as rapidly. Something about
impending cataclysm burns off the inner skeptic in everyone.
Terror, combined with the numerological ascriptions of the
millennium, drives many Kindred to acts they would have
considered impossibly rash scant years before.
THE GEHENNA CULTS
A telling symptom of the general malaise: Gehenna cults are
more popular than ever. Even ancillae and neonates have begun
to organize (if such a term can be applied to them) their own
groups. Most of the cults are tiny — fewer than a dozen regular
members — and woefully ignorant; some even think themselves
the only organizations of their kind. Generally, they dissolve or
fall prey to enemies within a decade of their founding.
Other cults can boast a far longer (if not always more
distinguished) history. The great cults of the West, some
of which are detailed below, have studied the problem of
Gehenna for many centuries. Studying and solving are two
different things, true, but these mystic orders are still fleeter
of foot than either the Camarilla or the Sabbat. Furthermore,
they honestly believe that when the time comes, their long
years of cautious plotting will enable them to move decisively
while the rest of the Kindred stand paralyzed.
THE ROYAL ORDER OF THE EDENIC
GROUNDSKEEPERS
Founded: A.D. 1645
The Groundskeepers seek, first and foremost, the resting-
places of the Antediluvians. The cult’s members believe they can
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
56
The radical faction, however, too energized by the
possibilities to waste time worrying, has recently launched
several survey expeditions to the most likely of the remain-
ing locations. Elite Kindred trainees provide the muscle,
while a trio of thin-blooded seers accompanies each team
as navigators. Whether these daring efforts might have any
issue remains to be seen.
THE WAY OF THE ANCIENT LAWGIVERS
Founded: A.D. 1312
The Lawgivers (also known as Enochians) have long
rejected the notion, held by some Kindred rationalists, that
the Gehenna cycle is an inevitable phenomenon. They insist
that the disobedience of younger Kindred is what causes the
blood baths. If the Kindred will but return to the ways of the
First City — by which the cultists mean that vampires should
overtly enslave humanity and institute a strict hierarchy of
age — then the Ancients will have mercy and bring an era
of unparalleled peace when they rise again. The cult’s old-
est charter dates from the 14th century, but claims for the
transmission of its teachings extend all the way back to the
Second City.
The “overtly enslave humanity” part of the Lawgivers’
credo is, of course, impracticable under the Camarilla Mas-
querade, and so those of its members who belong to that sect
must amass their mortal influence secretly — for now. They
believe firmly, however, that as Gehenna draws nearer, the
time will come to throw off the shackles of silence. When
that time arrives, the cultists plan to be ready. Some devote
great energy to infiltrating various national militaries. Others
have retreated to the wilderness to create limited “Carthag-
inian” experiments, small walled towns where the resident
mortals knowingly serve a brood of Cainite masters. In these
controlled environments, they hope, they can learn the best
methods for government and thus avoid the calamities that
have hindered similar attempts in the past.
Trapped in their own dogma, the Lawgivers cannot credit
the idea that the mere appearance of thin-blooded vampires
might rouse the Ancients against the Kindred. However,
the presence of so many bastards does reveal the lawlessness
and disobedience of the vagrants’ sires, and that is the real
danger. Thus, the cultists are generally staunch supporters
of the scourge. Any vampire youths running around loose
should simply be destroyed, they say; once the slate is clean,
a fresh start, supported by firm discipline from the very first,
can be made.
THE SERVITORS OF IRAD
Founded: A.D. 1456
Similar to the Lawgivers in many respects, the Servitors
espouse a creed of fearful slavery under the Antediluvians.
When Gehenna comes, the Servitors want to be able to prove
they’ve done everything possible to aid their ancestors’ return
to power. Their present strategy for accomplishing this goal
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
57
is to lead Kindred society ever deeper into ignorance and
blind acceptance of gibberish prophecies, so that it will be
less able to defend itself on the fateful night. Accordingly,
the cultists scheme to obtain influence within the Sabbat
and the Camarilla, then use that influence to sow malicious
rumors and intrigues. Whenever an opportunity arises, they
try to nudge the two sects into open warfare. They also keep
an eye open for disgruntled members of the independent
clans to offer them boons, pleasures and positions of respect
within the cult in exchange for turning quisling.
Over the years, the Servitors have built up a corps of
Kindred “sensitives” whose duty is to listen for any hint of
marching orders from the Ancients. Although the signs of
Gehenna appear nightly, the awaited signal has proved em-
barrassingly slow in coming. The cult’s leadership — a pair
of Kindred lovers, one of whom claims to be the last member
of a forgotten bloodline or clan — has been accused more
than once of hiding news of contact from the rest of the cult.
After all, it just isn’t possible that the Antediluvians have
simply chosen to ignore such faithful and eager followers as
the Servitors... is it?
In the absence of any clear direction from beyond, indi-
vidual Servitors must decide for themselves what to do about
the thin-blooded. Some roam from city to city and destroy
any thin-blooded they come across in hopes of delaying the
night of judgment — at least until they can figure out what
the Antediluvians really want. Their fellows, going to the
other extreme, do everything they can to encourage local
neonates to sire prolifically. They reason that this wantonness
not only provides an admirable distraction for the cunning
elders who might otherwise be inspired to arm for Gehenna,
but also creates a surfeit of weak, easily caught prey for the
torpid forebears.
THE TWILIGHT CULT
Founded: A.D. 1550
The Kindred of the Twilight Cult seek a woman referred
to in The Book of Nod as the “last daughter of Eve.” “When
the snows consume the earth,” the prophecy runs, “and the
sun gutters like a candle in the wind, then and only then will
there be born a woman — the Last Daughter of Eve — and
in her there will be decided the fate of all. And you will not
know this woman, except by the mark of the moon on her;
and she will face treachery, hatred and pain; but in her is
the last hope.”
Obviously, this woman is important, and she must be
found. The question is, how? Endless debate has been given
to the interpretation of “the mark of the moon.” Some of
the cultists say it refers to psychic ability. Others believe it
means a simple, physical birthmark in the shape of a crescent
moon. Perhaps she will have shapeshifter blood in her veins.
Perhaps she will be born to the true Roma, whoever they may
be (needless to say, more than one tribe of Roma lays claim
to the title). The latest theory, which is quickly coming into
vogue, is that she may be a dhampir.
And so the cultists disperse, each to his chosen lookout.
Some haunt the maternity wards; others discreetly follow
the Gypsy kumpaniyi on their travails. Particularly foolhardy
souls try to contact the Lupines and convince them of their
mutual interest in the matter. Few seem to care that accord-
ing to the usual reading of the prophecy, the Last Daughter
is not scheduled to appear until after the Antediluvians have
returned and enjoyed “a reign of one thousand years.” Now,
they say, is the time to begin watching. The earlier they
start, the less likely they are to miss the signs of her arrival.
Besides, prophecies can be interpreted in so many different
ways, and the Antediluvians are crafty; who’s to say that the
thousand-year reign hasn’t already begun?
Once they have (presumably) found the Last Daughter
of Eve, the cultists must then face the question of what to
do with her. Most agree that she should be protected, in any
case (although cynics have pointed out that the prophecy
doesn’t explicitly call her the “last hope for the Kindred”); but
past that, opinions diverge again. It has been argued that she
must be Embraced. If she is to save the Cainites, shouldn’t
she become one of their number? Other cultists propose to
teach her Tremere blood magic, or turn her over to human
wizards for instruction in the mystic arts, or induct her into
their favorite religion. A sizable contingent believes that she
should simply be watched from afar — after all, the whole
point of destiny is that it’s supposed to work no matter what
you do.
Any concern the Twilight Cult might have with the
thin-blooded revolves mainly around the new dhampir theory.
Members travel long distances to confirm reports of a dhampir
birth, and though their intentions are rarely hostile, they can
be great nuisances and trouble magnets. It has been posited
that the “mark of the moon” could refer to the seers’ oracular
powers, but most of the cultists have rejected that idea: After
all, the prophecy strongly implies that the Daughter will bear
the “mark of the moon” as a mortal.
THE CULT OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Founded: A.D. 510
The Cult of Enlightment fights a lonely battle. Instituted
by vampires who, even a millennium ago, saw and feared the
direction that Kindred society was taking, it pursues the near-
futile task of bringing spiritual enlightenment to the Cainite
race. Only by transcending the Beast once and for all, the
cultists argue, can vampires be able to give up their eternal
and ultimately disastrous warfare. Unfortunately, many of
the cult’s most influential leaders are currently in torpor. The
remaining members struggle along in their quest for Golconda,
but left to their own devices, they have lost the way.
Now two “prophets” have arisen within the cult, each a
bitter enemy of the other, both advocating monastic retreat
as the solution to Gehenna. One of them insists that the
entire cult should go into torpor and enter a heroic dream-
quest under his direction. His rival lures followers one by
one into the Himalayas, where she claims to have found a
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
58
second Eden — complete with fruit trees that can nourish
Kindred and a cave of wonders in which the shadows play
out visions of the end times.
A few cultists remain skeptical, knowing that the fear of
doom easily gives rise to sham and demagoguery. Withdrawing
from the world in its hour of need, they say, is the last thing
Kindred should do. However, most of the present membership
has flocked to one banner or the other.
Meanwhile, the scholars of the group spend their nights
trying to find the Scrolls of Wisdom — 13 scrolls onto which
the cult’s founders recorded all their learning many centuries
ago. The documents have since disappeared: Four were stolen
during the Battle of Samarkand, one was lost somewhere
along the Silk Road in the 11th century, and the remaining
eight were smuggled out of Constantinople just before the
Turkish invasion. None of the currently active cultists has
ever seen the scrolls. However, tradition claims that, among
other things, they outline the events of Gehenna in unusu-
ally clear detail. The cult finances countless archaeological
excavations to search for this missing lore. It has also sought
the Assamite clan’s help on several occasions, but the desert
warriors claim ignorance of the scrolls’ whereabouts.
For the most part, the Cult of Enlightenment is eager
to hear the words of the new weak-blooded prophets. After
all, revelation is revelation, regardless of the source. Several
seers have been approached, even invited to the cult’s secret
meetings; thus far, all have declined. The younglings seem
to be afraid, a reaction that puzzles many within the order.
Are they not gentle, salvation-seeking souls, one and all? But
some cultists mutter that the seers reluctance only confirms
what they themselves have suspected all along: A traitor must
lurk within the ranks, some hidden evildoer who is trying
— probably successfully — to subvert their holy purpose and
send the whole cult spiraling into perdition.
THE ARIMATHEANS
Founded: A.D. 30
The Arimatheans trace their history back to the first
terrible nights after the Crucifixion of Christ. Their servants
watched as Joseph of Arimathea, hurrying against the Sabbath,
took down the body and laid it in its tomb; they themselves
stood watch the night after the Sabbath — though they had
to flee, wounded by the power of whatever divine force had
been released within. Or so they claim.
A number of Kindred dwelling in the Holy Land at that
time took an interest in the stories of resurrection. After all,
if this man Yeshua was truly so holy as to defeat death, he
might be able to impart great wisdom to vampires — most
especially, the secret to breaking God’s curse. However, despite
the many reports of divine visitations in the days, weeks, and
months following the Crucifixion (even after the Ascension
on the Mount of Olives), no vampire could truly claim to
have witnessed one. Soon enough, most Kindred had put the
whole thing down to human fabrication.
Nonetheless, a few still believed and hoped. Those few
dispersed to the four winds, secretly following the apostles
and sending back word of everything that happened. As they
spied on the growing congregations in Rome, Lyons and Co-
logne, they came to hear of miracles ascribed to a cup borne
by Joseph of Arimathea into the far north. The same cup the
Master had used at His last meal, some said; others held it
to be the cup that had caught His blood when His side was
pierced on the cross. In any case, the hope of the vampires
was renewed. A cup that had contained the sacrificial blood
of Christ — even in a merely ritual sense — would be a
powerful relic indeed for the blood-drinkers. They meant to
find it and learn its secrets.
Unfortunately, they were not the only ones interested.
As they moved to claim their prize, it was spirited away by
mysterious guardians, whose identity and purpose even now
remain unknown. But the Arimatheans were not easily de-
terred. They have spent the intervening millennia chasing
any and all clues that purport to lead to this sacred cup, or the
Grail, as it is now called. They also try to track down other
relics of the Passion, for several reasons: first, to be better
armed against evil; second, to gain greater insight into His
suffering and sacrifice; and third, to benefit from whatever
mystic attraction might exist between such objects and their
most holy sibling. However, this is largely a side pursuit.
The Arimatheans credit the Grail with tremendous
powers, most of which can be traced back to human legend
on the subject. The Grail is the ultimate vessel of redemption
and transfiguration. The holy blood within it can wash away
any taint of sin, from the marks of diablerie to the Nosferatu
curse to the Embrace itself. Perhaps it can even bestow true
immortality or angelic powers… but all these gifts can be
granted only if the seeker is pure of heart and purpose. Members
of the cult almost universally despise their undead state and
seek to reconcile themselves with God. Nor do they hope to
earn salvation for their own souls only: If Father Caine were
to drink from the Grail, they dare to believe, the whole race
of vampires might be redeemed. Because of this, they pursue
rumors of Caine sightings almost as avidly as Grail lore.
Since most Arimatheans refuse to sire childer (it being
a grave sin to so endanger another’s soul), they must increase
their numbers through proselytizing. The result is a rather
odd mix. Some cultists radiate holiness and steadfast purpose,
while others are agonized penitents, just setting out on their
vision-quests. Many adhere to very strict and bizarre purity
laws, which prescribe devotions, mortifications, the precise
manner in which vitae may be taken, and so forth. It is even
whispered that one of the feared Seraphim of the Sabbat’s
Black Hand is a member of the Arimatheans.
An opportunity to spend a year among the Arimatheans
would be a religious historian’s delight, as their practices stem
directly from the most primitive days of the Christian church.
Not only that, but one of the cult’s leaders claims to have
been residing in Jerusalem at the time of the Passion. The
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
59
Arimatheans’ most sacred ritual is a version of the Eucharist
in which the sacramental wine is replaced with the blood of a
lamb; practitioners claim that a taste from their Communion
chalice is sweeter than the Kiss itself.
Comparatively recently (that is, within the past few
centuries), the Arimatheans have begun to exchange schol-
arship with another, much smaller, group that also studies
Grail lore, but only that descended from the Celtic mythos.
Although the Arimatheans naturally discount any notion that
the Grail is of pre-Christian origin, they recognize that these
Kindred scholars are seeking the same ultimate enlightenment
and healing. Relations between the sister groups have so far
been remarkably amiable; whether impending Gehenna will
ultimately drive them apart or bring them closer together,
however, remains to be seen.
THE LILITH CULTS
Founded: Unknown
The plural is intentional. No one “true” cult of Lilith
exists, whatever this or that group may claim; instead, her
worship is spread out over dozens of small, disparate cults,
who nonetheless share a basic philosophy and even cooper-
ate when necessary.
Outsiders call Lilith’s vampiric followers Lilins, after
the Dark Mother herself. The Lilins, however, generally call
themselves “Bahari” (Baham in the singular) after Ba’hara,
Lilith’s Third Garden — also known as the Garden of Sor-
rows (her first two Gardens withered long ago; Lilith herself
destroyed one in a fit of rage, and the other perished at the
hands of Caine and the Antediluvians, who also slew Lilith’s
children).
In any case, the Bahari see Lilith, first wife of Adam, as
the most potent figure in the primeval drama — far surpass-
ing Adam, Caine and even her own Creator, all of whom are
recast as her treacherous consorts. More importantly, she is
the truly wronged party. Thus, when the Final Nights come,
vengeance will belong to her alone. She will raise the oceans
and call forth her demon-children, and all who claim alliance
or kinship with the husband who raped her, the God who cast
her out or the lover who betrayed her shall be swept away like
so many shards of broken pottery. Then a new world, Lilith’s
world, will take shape in the resulting void.
The Bahari, who certainly plan to survive this transition
in one form or another, accordingly renounce their blood-ties
to Caine and are “reborn” into Lilith’s service. The Path of
Lilith consists of two complementary devotions. First, the
Bahari seek to suffer as the Mother suffered, thus emulating
her path to transcendence; second, they help others to reach
enlightenment by the same method. They reject the pallid
moralism of The Book of Nod and study an alternate canon,
the Revelations of the Dark Mother — a jumbled assemblage
of visions, songs, and oral tradition connected only by a
single thread, the thrumming, subconscious call of the first
woman: ahi hay Lilitu.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
60
Although a disproportionate number of Bahari are fe-
male, especially among the Hierophants (priesthood), many
male vampires have also chosen to join the cult. Lilith cults
also rarely restrict worship of Lilith to Kindred only. Human
mystics and other shadow-folk walk her Path. Anyone who is
willing to cast the safety of illusion aside and plunge into the
rendering flames of truth and pain may find a place among
the new children of Lilith.
Like the Twilight Cultists, some Bahari seek the
“last daughter of Eve.” However, they generally intend
to destroy her, rather than aid her. In mortal legend,
the children of Lilith (i.e., the monsters/demons) and
the children of Eve (i.e., the human race) are eternally
ranged against each other, enemies by nature. Therefore,
these Bahari reason, the Last Daughter may be meant to
serve as Lilith’s final nemesis — the only one who could
conceivably stand in the Mother’s way. Others dismiss
her as a fiction, just one more lie in the pack of lies that
constitutes Noddist scripture. And even if she should
turn out to be a real person, they argue, how could one
of Eve’s pathetic get hope to thwart a being who learned
to outshine Jehovah Himself?
Due to their savage beliefs, the Bahari usually belong to
the Sabbat when they claim any sect allegiance at all, though
that sect’s Noddist beliefs typically cast the Lilins as heretics,
infernalists or worse. Additionally, at least a few Camarilla
moles serve the cults as well. See the Vampire supplements
Revelations of the Dark Mother and the Guide to the Sabbat
for more information on Lilith, her Path and her cults.
SEER CULTS
Founded: Recent nights
This is another umbrella category, encompassing a small
but growing number of groups worldwide. The appearance of
thin-blooded with strange, inexplicable insight into the Jyhad
has caused consternation in many circles, but among others
the seers are hailed as messianic figures who could guide the
Kindred into a new age of peace and wisdom.
Although some seer cults are actually organized and
run by seers, more often it is an elder who holds the strings,
while the seer takes a position analogous to that of vizier.
Vampires of the pre-scientific era, awed by oracles of any kind
and deeply moved by their sense of looming judgment, can
be willing to overlook their mistrust of the vampiric rabble
in their search for truth — but they have no intention of
giving up control over the proceedings.
A few cults can boast of possessing multiple seers. In
such cases, the seers quickly become a tight-knit, secretive
cult within the cult. Their methods of divination range from
the bizarre to the utterly outlandish (one group in Montreal
conducts seances around a store-bought Ouija board; another,
in Paris, presents its findings exclusively in laboriously as-
sembled collages). Still, their followers and patrons place
the utmost faith in their visions.
The Heralds of the Red Star
The most famous seer cult in the world is also one of the new-
est. The Heralds of the Red Star, named for the star that appeared
earlier this year prior to the “week of nightmares” and the great
flood in Bangladesh, pride themselves on openness. All Kindred
who wish to may attend their meetings, which are publicized as
widely as possible within the confines of the Masquerade. Their
self-appointed mission: to convince the rest of their race that the
end is much closer than is widely believed, and that differences
must be put aside now if vampires hope to endure.
The cult’s leader, V. Harriet Bakos (the “V.” stands for
Vampiresa, but she rarely allows herself to be called that),
is actually neither a seer nor even a vampire. She claims,
however, to be a dhampir — the daughter of a Roma mother
and a Ravnos father. Furthermore, she often goes into fugue
states, during which she raves of visions quite similar to
those reported by the seers under her tutelage. In all her
visions, the star figures prominently as the guiding light for
some inconceivably evil being who is due to arrive on Earth
sometime this year. Although only Kindred with sufficient
Auspex can see the star, its appearance has disturbed vampire
society enough that they receive this half-breed prophet with
much less hostility than one would ordinarily expect (see
the Appendix of this book for more information on Harriet
Bakos, the Red Star, and the Week of Nightmares).
Those meetings of the cult that are actually hosted by
Harriet or her seers tend to be mystic and theatrical, carried
out with all the ceremonial flash of a spiritualist séance. The
others, however, which her confidants organize and moder-
ate, often have the feel of a UFO-watchers’ convention,
replete with slide shows, conspiracy theories, lectures and
photocopied pamphlets. The present membership consists
mainly of very young vampires — including many thin-
blooded — and ghouls, but their hard recruiting has begun
to pay off, and the occasional ancilla can now be seen as well
(probably spying for a superior, but the Heralds prefer being
spied on to being ignored).
At present, the cult has five seers, and Harriet herself
has traveled all over the Western Hemisphere in search of
others. While in Brazil, she was approached by a handful of
vampires who supposedly belonged to a group of Tremere
called “The Order of the Wyrm.” The Red Star, they told
her, is obviously the “eye” of this Wyrm, whom they identified
as “the lord of this world”; its appearance should be taken
as a sign that the Wyrm is about to begin its sacred mission
of purging the Earth for the new reign to come. Placating
sacrifices must be made immediately, for only a few would be
chosen to survive. She listened to their theories for about half
the night, then sent them off with a few disparaging remarks
about men and their one-eyed worms. A representative of the
Tremere Council of Seven has since assured her that no such
order exists in his clan, but Harriet and her followers have
often felt something keeping close watch on their movements
in the weeks since....
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
61
RELIGIOUS MANIAS
For some vampires, a cult is too much organization. Per-
haps they’ve succumbed to the instability of the Malkavians.
Perhaps they’ve simply snapped after too many years of repress-
ing their feelings and instincts. Perhaps they were never much
for rational response anyway. Whatever the reason, religious
hysteria has invaded Kindred society like a virus, multiplying
and mutating into a hundred different forms:
• Penitential Movements: Self-flagellation, piercing,
starvation, even cursory exposure to sunlight — any kind
of mortification, humiliation or mutilation might serve a
vampire seeking to expiate his sins in time for the end of the
world. Kindred of the Sabbat and various cults (especially the
Lilith cults) also use these methods to prove the strength of
their flesh and the firmness of their purpose. In either case,
considerable ceremony may attend the masochism. Members
of one war-pack in Mexico decorate each other with exquisite
scarifications representing their past deeds, good and bad,
whereas the Methuselah Prince of Cologne demands that
petitioners to his court address him as “heretic wretch” and
give him fifty lashes on his naked back before he will hear
their requests.
• Imitation: As blasphemous as it might seem, many
elders take a queer comfort in adopting the trappings and
outer behavior of their favorite saints and prophets. Some
wear monk’s robes and shave their heads. Others fast, wash
the feet of the homeless, walk on hot coals, give away all their
possessions, sit in sackcloth and ashes, crucify themselves
upside-down, etc. More than a few have wandered into the
wilderness, never to be seen again. Youngsters may scoff at
the idea that a few empty gestures can cancel centuries of
evildoing; but the Kindred who indulge in these practices
come from an era when worldly men had themselves buried
in monk’s habits, in the honest hope that the Almighty
could be fooled by a costume change. Besides, when doom
is all but certain, a little spiritual insurance is far better than
none, n’est-ce pas?
• Dancing: Some Kindred can still remember the danc-
ing madness that seized the Rhineland during the time of the
Black Plague. Claiming they were possessed and calling out
the names of demons or recounting wild visions of Mary and
Jesus, countless peasants jumped and whirled themselves into
exhaustion for no discernible reason. The modern dancers
don’t usually testify to mystic revelations, but they are no
less vehement in their gyrations. This mania is especially
popular among younger Kindred — whole Brujah Rants have
devolved into inarticulate frenzies of dancing — but elders
are not immune. In Boston, curious mortals were treated to
a spontaneous reenactment of long-dead fertility and funeral
dances at the opening of a small art gallery.
• Weeping: Supremely dangerous to the Masquerade,
this is the most difficult mania to control; it comes and goes
too quickly. Nor does it occur en masse, as many of the others
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
62
do. One night, a Toreador ancilla suddenly starts weeping in
Elysium. The next week, a Tremere primogen who hasn’t so
much as cracked a smile in four centuries finds himself shed-
ding uncontrollable blood-tears at the newspaper stand. A
month later, a Setite elder who barely knows either of them
breaks down sobbing in the arms of her bewildered prey.
One by one, the most unlikely candidates succumb, leaving
a city’s entire vampire population shaken.
A PARCEL OF POLICIES:
KINDRED REACTION TO THE
THIN-BLOODED
And you will know these last times by the time of thin blood,
The Book of Nod announces, and then, in the same verse:
You will know them by the Clanless, who will come to rule. If
the thin-blooded knew of their prophesied role in the Final
Nights, they would partly understand the venom, madness
and terror that greet their arrival — but only partly.
The highest generations violate every boundary the
Kindred hold dear. As Caitiff (for the most part), they defy
distinctions of clan and sect; as thin-blooded, they threaten to
blur even the line between living and undead — their dhampir
children being, of course, the ultimate embodiment of that
transgression. Yet nearly every forum in vampire society is
split on the question of how to solve the vagrant problem.
The argument rages in anarch rants as well as elder salons,
and it shows no promise of easy resolution.
THE CAMARILLA
Yes, well. I understand that those with paranoid millennial
agendas may be frustrated with the delay, but these things take
time. I feel the clan has succeeded in airing a number of very
difficult issues during our official debates on the subject. Look
how long the Council of Trent convened, and those were human
beings! Besides, we’ve still got a good 12 years before we have
to present our recommendations to the Inner Circle at the next
Grand Conclave. With any luck, most of the little maggots will
have died out by that time.…
— Horace, Brujah Idealist
The most inclusive political body in vampire society is
necessarily the most fractious, especially when it comes to
this subject. At present, sect policy is to accept any vampire
who observes the Traditions and obeys the local prince
(unless, of course, she should happen to be illegitimate, in
which case her unlife is forfeit for her sire’s sins). Neverthe-
less, some Camarilla Kindred argue that the thin-blooded
should be wiped out before they can join with the anarchs
or the Sabbat. Others uphold the traditional view, and have
declared themselves willing to dwell alongside thin-blooded
who abide by the law. Most remain undecided; all they know
is that these heedless young vermin are invading their turf,
and they want the place fumigated somehow.
Since the Camarilla officially believes that Gehenna
is a myth and Caine and the Antediluvians are either dead
or hopelessly torpid, it must also dismiss any wild notions
of omens or portents. Nonetheless, the thin-blooded are
inarguably dangerous by themselves.
In the first place, they add to the population problem. As
ever more Kindred feed, breed and squabble over territory,
the chances of an irreparable Masquerade breach increase
astronomically. Can a thin-blooded weakling, brand new to
the night, muster the cruelty to kill his prey? Can he catch
their eyes and make them forget? No? How, then, is he to stop
them from telling what they have seen? Some thin-blooded
can’t even ghoul their vessels and thus snare them with the
blood bond. And what about those childer who overturn
the Masquerade completely in their ignorance, letting their
parents, lovers and psychiatrists in on their little secret?
In the second place, the fledglings’ bizarre powers make
them a dangerous and unknown quantity. Again, the threat
to the Masquerade is considerable: Kindred who can mimic
the living more successfully than other vampires, and who
choose to remain in human society for that reason, are all
the more vulnerable for their proximity. But leaving that
aside, what is to be made of these seers who can blurt out an
elder’s innermost secrets within a few seconds of meeting him?
How are peace and civilization to persist in such a climate of
honesty? As for the dhampirs — how long is that to continue
unchecked? What if the blood-powers are passed on to their
descendants? Might the Kindred eventually face an ascendant
human race, powered by immortal vitae?
Public discussion focuses on these points; but under the
surface, even more complex issues are at hand. The advent of
the thin-blooded has awakened painful, conflicted emotions
in many an undead heart. Although they would never admit
it, vampires often harbor deep regrets over life not lived.
They miss their dead children, or mourn children that never
came to be. They contemplate nostalgically, even morbidly,
the pleasures of the flesh. They look at their sterile bodies
and see repellent corpses, to which they no longer feel any
vital connection. They regard the light of the sun not only
as God’s punishment to the Cainites but also as his blessing
to the mortals, and they long to be blessed again. For them,
it is far too late. But now, these upstarts… here are creatures,
every bit the bloodsuckers they are, to whom God has restored
these gifts. Why?
The Camarilla Kindred, with their overt (if rather ab-
stract) respect of “humanity,” are especially vulnerable to this
sort of melancholy — and the envious rage that inevitably
follows. If the Inner Circle wished to, it could easily tap into
such resentment, as well as unvoiced eschatological fears,
to turn sect opinion even more strongly against the highest
generations. Some elders say it has already embarked on this
course: It recently issued an edict condoning the reinstitution
of the scourge, and rumors circulate that it plans to propose a
blanket anathema on the thin-blooded, including dhampirs,
at the next Grand Conclave. Could this be the first step
toward a pogrom — some sort of mass Blood Hunt wherein
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
63
the Camarilla Kindred would all go forth to reclaim the vitae
scattered by their profligate childer?
If any Camarilla clans have reached internal consensus
on the matter of the thin-blooded — an unlikely event,
given the familial rather than corporate nature of the clans
— they haven’t come forward to say so. However, this has
not discouraged the conspiracy theorists. Harpies whisper
that the Malkavians are secretly gathering up thin-blooded
seers to indoctrinate and train them for some unfathomable
mission. The Tremere have been accused of creating thin-
blooded for the express purpose of experimenting on them,
a charge Vienna has vehemently denied.
THE ANARCHS
I don’t care how sick her mother is, and I don’t care how
tight we were before. This is tough on you, huh? What about me
— what about Gracie? Watchin’ the two of you make kissyface
at her fuckin’ funeral? Go on, get out of here, if any of us catch
you in the neighborhood again you’re dead meat. And take the
damned dog!
— Benny Zubrowski, anarch ringleader
One might think the anarchs natural allies of the thin-
blooded: After all, the former are responsible for siring a
sizable number of the latter. More often, however, the new
vampires are regarded as disaster magnets, invitations to the
scourge, and thus driven away. Furthermore, neonates who
have tried to sire and failed can become astonishingly bitter.
In their disappointment, they turn on their more fortunate
brethren and accuse them of hoarding occult secrets. Such
rivalries have torn more than one anarch nest apart.
Anarch visionaries have finally, belatedly, realized the
potential usefulness of the thin-blooded, and now try to spread
a more conciliatory rhetoric. So far, however, their pleas have
fallen on deaf ears. The rebels are tired. Their momentum
has worn down, beset on all sides by truculent elders and
recalcitrant reality. Recently, a wave of suicide pacts among
anarch gang members has surfaced, groups of four or five
walking hand-in-hand into the sunrise, or arranging to have
their havens set ablaze while they sleep. Those who endure
would eagerly welcome a new race of saviors, but convincing
them to believe will be a hard task indeed.
THE SABBAT
That’s what I told him. “Do I look like a baby-sitter to
you?” Damn bishop. I’ve already played that game once — you
remember that snotty kid you met when we swung by Jersey last?
And where do you think he is? Dead, of course. Three fucking
years of blood and sweat, and what’s the bottom line look like?
A big fat splotch of red ink. We’re the Sabbat for Chrissake, not
the Baptist Mission for Wayward Licks.
— Yvonne, Lasombra pack priest
The Sabbat claims more Noddist scholars than even
the Camarilla and the independent clans combined. From
its earliest nights, the sect has looked ahead to Gehenna as
the historic moment it was specially created to anticipate.
Naturally, it has found rich fodder for theorizing and debate
in the highest generations.
The Noddists insist that the gifts of the thin-blooded are
too portentous to ignore; they must be either brought into
the fold or killed. Accordingly, many prisci and archbishops
have ordered their underlings to set out lures for the newcom-
ers. Thin-blooded who respond to the invitation, however,
may well find unlife in a pack too harsh to survive for long.
There’s no more room now for error or weakness than there
ever was, and many ordinary Sabbat resent the idea that
they should burden themselves with ignorant younglings just
because of some musty pedant’s reading of some pretentious
scripture. Besides, aren’t the thin-blooded supposed to be
the Antediluvians’ wake-up call? Sabbat like to boast that
they welcome the Gehenna with no reservations — that
no true warrior fears battle. But in reality, some members of
the sect aren’t quite sure how prepared they are to face the
raging Ancients.
A bigger problem is that the thin-blooded unwittingly
present a direct challenge to Sabbat ideology. The sect’s whole
philosophy is built around the idea that vampires are a step
above humanity, and that to behave like a human is to admit
one is an inferior individual. Most Sabbat have no intention
of giving up this comforting delusion when their supreme
hour is finally near, and they may well be moved to destroy
any offending bits of reality they come across. That certainly
includes vampires who take extra-long showers and can’t kick
their popcorn habit. Prospective enlistees beware.
ASSAMITES
Hush, infidel. I have been watching, and I know that this
existence is painful for you. How could it not be? You are caught
between one world and another, never to belong to either. Your
baby girl… ah, for her it is even more so. I told you I have been
watching. But, you see, she can be of use to me, while you cannot.
Please do not worry. Soon you will be of one world again — the
next — and she will be raised in the true faith. Aren’t you going
to thank me?
— Omer, Assamite rafiq
In these troubled nights, the independent clans are feared
more than ever. Although they were always a danger, at least
they could once be trusted to keep to their own hard-won
territories. Now, however, the Assamites have thrown off
the curse that once bound them. Unleashed, they promise
to bring more bloodshed to the coming decade than the past
several centuries of Jyhad have seen.
The thin-blooded are in even more peril than most.
The Path of Blood, which accomplished Assamites follow,
holds that a vampire’s blood must get ever stronger if he
hopes to achieve true enlightenment. Since those of the
thin-blooded generations obviously have little or no hope of
ever attaining such a blessed state themselves, they should
instead serve as sustenance for those who are more worthy.
And who knows? Perhaps if enough of their diluted blood is
absorbed, something can be learned of their unique powers.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
64
Dearest Hermia,
You must forgive me for the disgraceful gaps and lacunae in our correspondence. As you know, a great many press-
ing affairs intrude upon my customary solitude, and I no longer have the time that I should to confer with my pupils
in the brotherhood. But before you think to pity me, I bid you first direct your prayers toward our poor Laocoön. After
all, he is charged with the task of rousing the bodies, minds, and feelings of a good two-dozen of our kind — even more
ancient than I, and at least as bitter. If he fails, the coming night will be grim indeed!
As I recall, you asked me in your last letter to explain the true secret of the Jyhad. Well! What a task you set
before me; is it any wonder I take a few years to answer? But never mind. As far as I know, there is no one true secret
— and I would be wary of anyone who told me otherwise. There are, however, a thousand little secrets, which can be
uncovered in time by the patient observer.
What is more, simple inductive reasoning will serve you as well as anything else. I will not permit you to be lazy:
I still remember that brilliant young girl at the symposium! Use your head! Personally, I have found that when
contemplating the Jyhad, it is best to bear in mind the natural circumstances of each generation; for whatever goals and
ideals one may pretend to, one is always constrained by circumstance.
Let us leave aside the Ancients for a moment, for the game is theirs in the end, and their plots are as many and
diverse as the species of birds. Instead, we shall move directly to their childer. Consider the plight of the Fourth Genera-
tion. Theirs is the dubious and almost exclusive distinction of having seen the Ancients in the flesh — of knowing their
faces, their voices, their loves and hatreds. Furthermore, as they know the Ancients, so they are themselves known; yes,
down to the smallest secrets of their mortal pasts. This places them in an unenviable position vis-à-vis the Jyhad. After
all, to whom does your sire turn when he is in need? Could you defy a god who called you by name?
Surely, as the Ancients stir, the situation can only grow worse for our unhappy ancestors. The subtle whisper of
their elders’ sleeping minds will grow more strident; what was a dreamy, half-spoken wish will become a demand made
in the name of love, of Blood, of a debt too great ever to be discharged. How can it be otherwise? Obey they must, and
will, and there is no use at all in recriminations.
We now turn to the Fifth Generation, of which I can speak with more authority. Our situation is subtly different.
I have met my grandsire once, yes, but that was ages ago, and the conversation was brief. Lack of intimacy and a weaker
blood-tie translate to diminished obligation, or at least a diminished sense of it. We are close enough to see the Ancients’
strategies at work — close enough to serve, to rebel, to spy, to expose. Yet we are distant enough that withdrawal is
also a tempting possibility. We can more easily resist our sires than they can theirs. No wonder, then, that we make up
the greater part of the Inconnu.
We argue among ourselves, while we can still afford to. Some of us say that our chief duty is to survive. These
elders would have us run to ground, wait for the warfare to pass away, then emerge to rebuild. With time, they say,
all things are possible — even the thwarting of the Ancients — but we have done too little to date. It is too late for
half-measures, and we must see this bloody cycle through first.
Then there are those who say that, unless we take an active part now, there will be no vampire race nor even a hu-
man race to reclaim in the end. We can break the long chain of domination, they say, for we alone are strong enough,
both as individuals and as a brotherhood, to be our own masters.
You know my feelings on the matter, dearest Hermia.
Next, we come to your own generation and those immediately below it. Six, Seven, Eight: the self-proclaimed princes
of our kind. Few indeed are aware, as you are, of how hollow that glory is. They shrug their shoulders in ignorance
at the mention of the Jyhad — or even dismiss it as a fiction, a fanciful ploy with which their sires try to enslave them
long past their coming-of-age. Those who do believe in the Ancients stumble about in the fog of occultism, forming their
cults and writing their treatises, hoarding their pages from the First Book. Yet no matter how they labor, there is no
way for their ilk to know the true will of our forefathers! Thank your patron gods, Hermia, that they brought you into
our fold; that you were deemed trustworthy; that you had the strength to give up fleeting worldly power for the sake of
illumination. A shoddy, dawdling illumination it has been, I know. But you shall see how even a little truth can shine
in the dark nights ahead.
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
65
If only we could combine the fire of your middle generations with the accumulated knowledge of mine… then vic-
tory would be almost assured. But too few of you seek, and too few of us give. Alas.
I must return to my theme. As the river of Blood wanders further from its source, it weakens, the ignorance increases
a thousandfold; but at least our youngest — the Ninth Generation and beyond — are aware of their shortcomings.
Most attach themselves to their superiors as servants and ministers. The remainder strike out on their own, fleeing the
entanglements of Kindred society. In either case, it is survival they seek, rather than power, and their hope is as vain
as that of their fathers.
And yet, Hermia, you have no doubt begun to hear the tales. Just as modern man has learned to work the substance of
the elements into exquisite forms, the modern vampire seems to be devising entirely new crafts from our aged Blood. These
babes, weak but endlessly inventive, clamor for recognition — and perhaps they are right to claim our attention.
Put aside natural distaste and consider with me, o my pupil. It is true that each and every nation of Caine suffers
its own peculiar burden. Ask any vampire about his kin in the other clans, and he will produce a dozen hoary legends
to prove that the patriarch’s curse is upon them all. Amusingly enough, only the Nosferatu seem willing to include
themselves in this general malediction! The Nosferatu clan is also the only one that admits to fearing its own sire…
but this is a topic for some other letter. Of course, I am omitting from the present argument certain clans that are but
pretenders to the name.
What, then, of these very young ones? Again, weak they may be, but at least they do not carry the flaws of their sires.
They simply shrug off that tainted legacy. Furthermore, they use their power with a free hand, dabbling now in this
and now in that as they please. Have they, as some of them claim, managed to earn our vampire Father’s blessing?
Or is this simply a natural progression? I spoke above of a river of Blood. You know that where a river is powerful
and swift, fresher from the source, only cataclysm or the action of centuries can move it from its accustomed channels;
in the tributaries, where the flow has diminished to a mere trickle, changes of course are much more easy and frequent.
Naturally, it is far more comfortable for you and I to believe thus, since it does not force us to challenge our pride in
that which marks us as Brujah, Lasombra. We should beware of comfort!
Veddartha tells me the clanless are best ignored, left as a sort of appetizer for the feast of ages… They can slake
and slow the terrible thirst of the Ancients, and at little cost to our reserves of strength and wisdom. I must confess
my disagreement, but you know I am a confirmed Noddist and can never help going over the prophecies in my spare
moments.
Of late, a dream has returned and returned to me. I am with my sire, and we are making notes as we observe the
moonlight passing through a crystal prism. He looks at me and says, “The moonlight is purer, but the rainbow is a
promise.” The odd thing is that I seem to remember really having this conversation with him. You are no doubt familiar
with the Hebrew legend concerning the rainbow, that it was Yahweh’s promise never to send such a flood to Earth
again. Can it all be averted after all — dare I hope so wildly now, when I can hear the roar of the waters? Hermia,
I must look to you to restrain an old man’s fancy. Tell me I am a fool.
Nevertheless, I have begun to extend my hand, carefully, in as gentle a manner as I can manage — these young
ones startle and scatter as easily as voles upon hearing the hunter’s tread. If they truly are Caine’s favored, their voices
must be added to the symposium, and we must listen. Before you object, remember that we have patiently endured the
licentiousness of Malkav’s childer for lo, these many years; well, perhaps our wizened oracles can be spurred into
sense by a little competition!
I must have done with my ramblings and close this letter, my dear. It has been pleasant to think of your serious face,
bright as polished marble in the candlelight, to imagine you squinting with your weak eyes at my terrible handwriting; but
the time is too scant. You know well how scant it is. And so I know that you will forgive me, and think of me as you go about
your many duties, just as my prayers go with you always. Until we meet again, I remain yours, in eternal fellowship
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
66
The childer of Haqim will need such strength for the battles
to come, or so they insist.
GIOVANNI
Bah. Your Princeliness surely does not credit the slanders of our
enemies. Of all the clans of Caine, we alone have an unblemished
housekeeping record. We never Embrace without the permission
of our elder, nor do we bestow our gifts upon strangers. When we
are so attentive to the purity of our own Blood, why should we
burden ourselves with the riffraff and dregs of other clans? Simply
because I am a foreigner — what? Sorcery? Your Highness, a
Necromancer is concerned only with those already dead.
— Elisabetta Putanesca, Giovanni ambassador to New
Orleans
The Giovanni have not had to worry much about thin-
ning blood within their ranks. The clan is simply too young
to have multiplied to such numbers, particularly since most
of them refuse to Embrace any but blood relatives. Yet,
because they hold no outside allegiances, they needn’t have
any qualms about snatching up someone else’s errant childer
should they wish to do so — and they now stand accused of
just that. After all, as Necromancers, it only makes sense
that they should take an interest in vampires who claim to
have gained supernatural insight from their brief journey into
death. At least a dozen seers have disappeared from locations
suspiciously convenient to known seats of Giovanni power,
particularly in New England and North Africa. But the
Giovanni remain close-mouthed on this subject, as on many
others. All the vampires of the sects know is that, lately, a
good many Giovanni have been turning up in places where
they’re not supposed to be.…
THE SETITES
No, no, I understand. It’s a pretty tight spot you’re in. I’ve
been there myself. And I sure am glad you opened your heart to
a friend instead of one of those Camarilla sharks. Well, I know
folks all over this country. There’s this one fella, I just know he’d
love to help a bright and charming childe like you. All I ask is
that you take him a little goodwill present from me. Mm-hmm,
it is a funny-looking box, and very old. What’s in it? No, don’t
open it, dear!
— Lyman, Setite bartender
The Serpents, too, have given indications of being on
the move. Particularly, those who hold boons from leading
lights of the Camarilla are now cashing them in. The wildest
rumors allege that a general pilgrimage to Ombos is under
way, with the youngest leaving first, to be joined later by the
elders as they finish tying up the loose ends of their various
schemes. Most Kindred scoff that this is simply a new ploy,
a deception, just like everything else the Followers of Set
say or do, but others who know them better are disturbed
by the possibilities.
Setites don’t often actually introduce themselves as
such — even to ignorant thin-blooded — on account of the
near-universal opprobrium that darkens their name; but their
influence reaches into the humblest, most unlikely places,
and a young fledgling could well gain one’s acquaintance
without ever knowing it. The Setites are attracted to vulner-
ability and desperation, both of which are abundant among
the thin-blooded.
THE INCONNU
On the edges of this rather bleak picture may lurk a
glimmer of hope. After all, the Inconnu claim to be disgusted
with the strife that divides the rest of Caine’s childer. If they
won’t interfere on behalf of the thin-blooded, perhaps they
will at least leave them in peace?
THE SCOURGE
The resurgence of the scourge, perhaps the most visible
Kindred reaction to its hatred of the thin-blooded and its fear
of Gehenna, is certainly deserving of close attention. The
following section examines the institution in detail, from its
unprepossessing origins to its modern renaissance.
THE SCOURGE IN FORMER TIMES
No one knows who coined the term scourge; scholars
debate its antiquity. Nevertheless, surviving records suggest
that the scourge was known in old Babylon, Rome, and
Carthage.
The scourge’s ancient duty was to “beat the bounds” —
in other words, to patrol the borders of his lord’s territory,
driving out or killing any trespassers who might be found.
Although “trespasser” was usually taken to mean a vampire
who had failed to petition the lord for acceptance, the word
could also be used in its larger sense; thus, the scourge’s
enemies could easily include aggressive Lupines or Kindred
who were undesirable for any reason.
Appointments to the post were informal and ad hoc. Since
the world was considerably emptier than it is now, vampire
lords could and did claim sovereignty over vast stretches of
countryside, too large to patrol fully. Such lords often did not
appoint a scourge at all. Instead, they saved face by deliberately
ignoring squatters — so long as those squatters kept to the
hardscrabble outer reaches of the domain. Others simply saw
no reason to bother with a scourge until war broke out nearby,
sending its unruly tide of refugees across their lands.
Over the centuries, especially in areas where clan warfare
was rampant, the office was formalized and expanded. Some
feudal-era princes kept a captain of the guard, who served as
war-counselor in addition to securing the borders. Other cities
reluctantly accepted the protection of a Cainite mercenary
captain and his bloodthirsty (and dangerously unemployed)
soldiers while still others adopted the consigliere and gabellotti.
During the Baroque Era, at least two ceremonial “knightly”
orders were created that were open to any Kindred who held
a military commission from a recognized prince. Long-dead
Kindred heroes, much to the dismay of their surviving ac-
quaintances, were inducted into these chivalric forgeries as
“honorary founding members.”
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
67
All these various officials were rarely called scourges,
since their duties went far beyond a simple patrol, and no
doubt they would have taken umbrage at being addressed
by that primitive title — but they were no less feared by
their victims.
Still, despite the increasing pomp and bombast as-
sociated with it, the office was often left vacant or even
abolished altogether. Militaries in all times and places have
been expensive to maintain; and if money was of limited
interest to the Kindred who served, they usually expected to
be paid handsomely in favors and privileges. Even the most
harassed of princes could generally only afford a sporadic
“housecleaning.”
From the Enlightenment onward, particularly once the
Camarilla and the Sabbat had settled into their respective
European territories, the scourge gradually came to be regarded
as a decorative farce, hardly worth the prestation investment.
But now, as the practice of illegitimate siring reaches epidemic
proportions, things have changed.
THE SCOURGE REVISITED
Even the most isolated vampires of the Camarilla are
threatened by the swelling Kindred population. Competition
for hunting grounds increases nightly, and, far worse, some
drastic Masquerade breaches have occurred that escaped
mortal notice only through Herculean clean-up efforts.
Many want to put a swift and brutal end to this threat. So far,
the loudest outcry has come from the ancillae and younger
elders — the vampiric bourgeoisie, so to speak — who are
just powerful enough to have something to lose, but cannot
insulate themselves from danger with layer upon layer of
puppetry, as their superiors do.
In response to the unrest, some princes have reinstated
the office of the scourge. They seem to consider it a hard-
ship assignment and usually give the post to a subject who is
competent and loyal but not personally influential. (Indeed,
any influence a scourge might have prior to assuming office
would soon erode; influence must be maintained, and his du-
ties would force him to spend most of his time on the chase.)
Sometimes, scourges are required to bring their prisoners
before the prince for formal judgment; but in the most beset
cities, they have advance license to deal as they like with
trespassers, up to and including Final Death.
This latitude has already led to a number of question-
able incidents. In some cases, legitimate Kindred who simply
happened to be unknown to the scourge have been killed or
arrested out of hand as autarkis. In others, scourges chasing
miscreants have strayed well past their prince’s borders, result-
ing in virulent arguments with neighbors over jurisdiction.
Formal complaints have been brought to several princes
and justicars, and a conclave on the office of scourge may
convene in the near future. The question is a thorny one.
On the one hand, the sovereignty of the princes is tradition-
ally sacrosanct even though the Inner Circle and justicars
claim authority to pass judgment on them. On the other, the
vagabonds are acknowledged to be a universal menace, and
few want them to escape justice by the simple expedient of
crossing a border.
THE SCOURGE IN SABBAT CITIES
Sabbat elders are familiar with the general concept of the
scourge, since it predates both sects. Most often, however, the
job of securing city borders is given to an entire pack rather
than to a single person. Such packs are generally made up
of vampires too weak to hold their own anywhere but in the
suburbs anyway, and their peers tend to hold them in low
regard. Any Sabbat pack is naturally at liberty to dispose of
trespassers on its turf, though many bishops and archbishops
offer handsome rewards for captured thin-blooded.
NEW DEVELOPMENTS
In all the Camarilla tumult, the justicars have a historic
chance to expand their reach. Many vampires, disgusted
with the inertia of their elders and fearful for the survival
of their race, have banded into cabals to appeal for official
sect recognition of the scourge. Such a move would probably
place the office directly under the authority of the justicars,
which accomplishes three ends:
First, trespassers could be pursued across city borders, thus
settling the jurisdiction dispute. At present, a scourge whose
prey eludes him must generally concede the chase altogether,
or else petition the neighboring prince to call a new Blood
Hunt — an unacceptable delay, especially since many princes
won’t grant even a trifling request until they have carefully
considered its merits and then kept the supplicant waiting
for an appropriately humiliating interval.
Second, standard rules of engagement would be estab-
lished for the office, thus preventing any additional fatal
misunderstandings of the sort that have already scandalized
the Camarilla. (A recent incident in which Amsterdam’s
scourge pursued a young seer straight into the arms of a be-
wildered Ventrue ambassador from Düsseldorf, then killed
them both without so much as stopping to ask the Ventrue’s
name, is cited as the most egregious example. The horror
stories accumulate monthly.)
Third, the princes would be held to a higher level of ac-
countability. After all, it rarely takes much to tidy up for an
archon’s visit, and afterward things can go back to business
as usual. But if the justicar’s eyes and ears were always present
in the person of the scourge, princes might be encouraged to
make a more constant effort on behalf of their residents.
This reform movement is currently in its infancy, but it
could easily expand out of control. After all, mired as they are
in feudal politics, Camarilla Kindred have not failed to notice
the rise of democracy in the mortal nations. They know the
power of numbers — and now they have a cause far-reaching
and urgent enough to unite them. Clever justicars can use
propaganda and rhetoric to agitate them even further; with
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
68
luck, a big enough stink could be raised to “force” the Inner
Circle itself to action.
All the ingredients are present for a witch-hunt of epic
proportions: a frightened majority; a dangerous, contemptible
throng of potential scapegoats; an unscrupulous leadership
eager to tighten the reins of control. It would take but a nudge
here or there to set everything in motion.
MODUS OPERANDI
Technically, the scourge can’t simply walk up to someone
and perform an on-the-spot execution (though a few choose
to overlook this impediment). Most princes are nonetheless
willing to grant the scourge a limited amount of discretion in
handling offenders. Taking prisoners is easy enough to justify;
and if those prisoners should forcibly resist, the scourge can
kill them and claim self-defense. Anyway, who really cares
to question the exact manner of an undesirable’s death, as
long as the problem is dealt with? It’s not as though there
aren’t enough vampires running around.
Naturally, critics point out that such a policy can and
does lead to regrettable mistakes. This is one of the reasons
behind the growing call for justicar intervention.
Once the scourge has his victims — assuming they
survive arrest — he either dispenses justice himself or brings
them before the prince to make a formal accusation. In some
cities, he must also collect as much information as possible
about the errant vampires: names, clans (if any), mortal and
immortal associations, probable identity of the sires, etc. This
encourages the scourge to conduct an actual investigation
rather than a simple search-and-destroy mission (which may
miss the source of the problem completely).
The matter then passes to the discretion of the prince.
Generally, she will order immediate execution for the pris-
oners, unless other considerations intrude, such as curiosity
about strange powers or the need to extract information.
As for the unlucky sires, if they are known residents of the
domain, they may be granted the mercy of a hearing. Should
they happen to be out of pocket, however, a Blood Hunt will
likely be called against them.
THE SCOURGE AND THE THIN-BLOODED
Although the thin-blooded aren’t the only victims of the
scourge, they are the hardest hit. The scourge is often the first
(and last) contact that a thin-blooded vampire makes with
the Camarilla or, indeed, with the rest of his kind.
Thus, the scourge is bound to be a frightening apparition
when she appears. She need not always be immediately lethal,
however. She may want information on the location of other
vagrants. She may be curious about the peculiarities of her
appointed enemy, or she may have reason to seek a seer’s
advice. Thin-blooded who keep a cool head may be able to
negotiate for their unlives, if not with the scourge, then with
the prince who must make the final verdict.
CHAPTER TWO: ALAS, THAT GREAT CITY
69
Unfortunately for Storytellers, the scourge is generally
tied to a local jurisdiction and can’t personally chase a group
of characters from city to city. However, she forgives insults
no more easily than other vampires. Thin-blooded who
manage to embarrass the scourge by evading her will prob-
ably find themselves harassed by her contacts and agents in
other cities. It’s not uncommon for scourges to offer generous
bounties — or better yet, persuade their princes to offer such
bounty — for the capture of particularly recalcitrant foes.
Some mercenary-minded Gangrel have discovered that a
fine career can be made simply by rounding up any vagrants
they come across in their travels and bringing them to the
local scourge for a reward.
ASSAMITE SCOURGES
Freed from the Tremere curse and anxious about the
coming reckoning, many Assamites fervently pursue dia-
blerie. Some Camarilla princes have trouble finding anyone
among their subjects who is trustworthy, capable and willing
to assume the onerous task of population control. A possible
mutual solution is to subcontract, as it were, an Assamite to
serve as the scourge — with the understanding that the As-
samite will be granted rights of diablerie over the condemned.
Needless to say, the Camarilla largely frowns on alliances with
the rafiq, especially since they were specifically forbidden to
practice their trade in the Treaty of Tyre; so long as the As-
samite in question makes some statement of allegiance and
thus technically ceases to be a paid killer, the sect has scant
grounds for objection.
However, other Kindred in the city may voice deep
displeasure at having an assassin in their midst, should they
learn of it. Princes must also beware: Diablerie is only one
of the Assamites’ many goals. Some rafiq who offer their
skills are renowned scholars among their own people; by
capturing and examining thin-blooded vampires, they hope
to gain occult secrets.
Assamite scourges sometimes offer their victims a
chance to convert and be smuggled off for training in the
“True Path” rather than brought before the prince. Such an
option may seem quite attractive to prisoners, despite the
obvious misgivings.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
71
Most vampires are selective about whom they Embrace. Most
childer were quite competent even in their living days, and they
gain further skill under a sire’s tutelage before they become free
neonates. Indeed, the Embrace itself seems to enhance people’s
abilities — maybe it’s part of the curse, or maybe the shock of
becoming undead simply forces people to push themselves.
Such is not true of the thin-blooded. Odds are, their
sires picked them for frivolous reasons and didn’t bother
with any deliberate training. They are more like average
people. Thin-blooded characters can gain the competence
of any other neonate vampire — if they survive — but they
start play with fewer dots in Traits than “normal” vampire
neonates. In general, however, character creation rules for
14th- and 15th-generation vampires remain very much like
the rules for “normal” Vampire characters.
Storytellers should be aware that thin-blooded
characters, under the auspices of these rules, make use
of certain Merits and Flaws. Storytellers, if you do not
permit Merits and Flaws in your chronicle, you should
make a special exception in the case of thin-blooded
characters. If every character in a given chronicle is thin-
blooded, however, you may wish to negate the appropriate
Merits and Flaws altogether, as the players’ characters will
all have that in common, thus removing the need for such
mechanical distinctions.
STEP ONE: CHARACTER CONCEPT
The first step in designing a thin-blooded vampire is just the
same as for a “normal” vampire — or any game character, really. First
you must decide who this person is. Start with their mortal life. Who
was this person before they became a vampire? What was their past,
what did they do for a living, who were their friends, and so on.
Next, who Embraced the character and why? The character’s
sire had some reason, however frivolous or misguided, for Embracing
one person and not another. In the Camarilla, vampires receive few
opportunities to sire childer with their elders’ blessings; as a result
they pick their childer carefully. Many Kindred select a childe for
special abilities or social influence she possesses. A childe may be a
protégée, a lover or merely an ornament, but she also represents her
sire to other Kindred. Camarilla vampires seldom feel such strong
emotion that they sire a childe whom they know will disgrace them.
The Sabbat also select childer for strategic reasons (at least when
they aren’t siring masses of cannon fodder for assaults).
The thin-blooded and their sires rarely exercise such care.
For instance, they casually Embrace lovers in expectation of an
“eternal” affection, or they try to save a sick relative’s life by
granting him undeath. On the other hand, a vampire might
Embrace an enemy as a way to make her suffer. On rare occasions,
vampires might even Embrace through misunderstandings or
CHAPTER THREE:
A STAIN ON
THE SOUL
Those who came before me
Lived through their vocations…
— New Order, “Blue Monday”
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
72
bizarre accidents: “Omigod, I took too much, he’s dying! Maybe
he’ll get better if I put some back.…”
How long did the character’s sire stick around? If her sire is
still around, what relationship do they have? If not, why did the
sire leave? And how much did the sire explain about vampirism
and the world of the Kindred? Odds are, it wasn’t much: The
riffraff responsible for the thin-blooded generally don’t know
much themselves.
So the character became a vampire… what then? How does
the character feel about being undead? What has she gained
and lost? What hopes and ambitions does she have, and what
stands in her way?
Make sure your character has “hooks” the Storyteller can use
to involve her in stories: Friends and relatives from their mortal
days, to whom they still feel obligation; enemies whom they still
hate (or fear); goals and desires strong enough to lead them into
danger; things they have that other people want, or things they
want that other people have. These are all classic hooks.
(Strangely, some players try to make characters completely
without “hooks,” ones who have no weaknesses and no ties to
the rest of the world. What’s the point of playing a character
who never gets involved except when someone tries to kill
him? Besides, this is Vampire! Your character will find himself
embroiled in the schemes of others, no matter what you do; you
might as well make sure it happens in a way you find entertaining.
Storytellers love players who give suggestions.)
When you’ve gotten to know your character this well,
deciding on her Nature and Demeanor is a snap.
Finally, consider the character’s appearance. What does the
character look like? How does he dress?
GENERATION
Decide whether the vampire is 14th- or 15th-generation.
This will determine the size of the character’s usable blood pool
and Discipline limits. Fourteenth- and 15th-generation vam-
pires have different innate limitations and weaknesses. Being
14th-or 15th-generation is a Flaw (see below for details).
CLAN
About half of all 14th-generation vampires become Caitiff.
The rest, of course, belong to their sires’ clans. When creating a
14th-generation character from scratch, you may decide whether
the vampire has a clan or numbers among the Caitiff.
It may happen that a 13th-generation character sires a childe
in the course of a story. The new vampire has a 50 percent chance
of becoming a Caitiff. The Storyteller rolls a die (or uses some other
random process): An even result means a childe of the sire’s clan,
odd means a Caitiff. Of course, Storytellers may always exercise
their godlike powers and simply decide, but the 50 percent figure
exists in the World of Darkness and should be kept in mind.
All 15th-generation vampires are Caitiff. No exceptions!
The Curse of Caine has weakened so much that, by the 15th
Generation, the Blood can no longer sustain the special affinities
that define the clans.
Note: Don’t pay too much attention to clan stereotypes.
They are not very reliable as a guide to the thin-blooded.
Vampire clan members tend to select childer who resemble
themselves, just as they reflect their own sires. Thus, Toreador
have a reputation as artists because, for generations, artistic
clan members have Embraced other aesthetes; likewise, schol-
arly Tremere pick other scholars, wealthy Ventrue pick other
social leaders, and so on. Although every clan has numerous
exceptions, it still makes sense to speak of a “typical Gangrel”
or “classic Tzimisce.” In contrast, no plan guides the Embrace of
thin-blooded vampires, not even in a statistical sense. The lineage
may say Toreador, but the sire probably didn’t know she “ought
to” Embrace a good-looking artist instead of, say, the pretty but
vapid barfly to whom she felt an attraction. Clan affiliation is
the least important aspect of a thin-blooded character.
SPECIAL ARCHETYPES
Is the character a seer or inceptor? If so, these character-
istics determine many other aspects of the character. Does she
want to join the Camarilla or the Sabbat (or even know that
these sects exist)? Does she rebel with the anarchs or walk
the lonely path of the autarkis? Or does he ignore politics and
concentrate on mortal relationships as a Cleaver?
STEP TWO: ATTRIBUTES
Nascent 14th- and 15th-generation vampire characters re-
ceive only six dots to assign to their primary class of Attributes, but
CHARACTER
CREATION PROCESS
• Step One: Character Concept
Choose Archetype, Nature, Demeanor and general char-
acter background. Who is this person?
Choose clan (if any) and generation (if any)
• Step Two: Select Attributes
Choose primary, secondary and tertiary classes (6/5/3)
Choose Physical Traits: Strength, Dexterity, Stamina
Choose Social Traits: Charisma, Manipulation, Appearance
Choose Mental Traits: Perception, Intelligence, Wits
• Step Three: Select Abilities
Choose primary, secondary and tertiary classes (12/8/5).
Choose Talents: Your natural aptitudes
Choose Skills: What you’ve trained to do
Choose Knowledges: What you’ve studied
• Step Four: Select Advantages
Choose Disciplines (2)
Choose Backgrounds (5)
Choose Virtues (7)
• Step Five: Finishing Touches
Record Virtues, Willpower, Humanity and blood pool.
Add Merits and Flaws (if any).
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
73
they still receive five dots for secondary Attributes and three dots
for their tertiary Attributes. Since no plan guides the Embrace of
thin-blooded vampires, physical, social or mental Attributes are
equally likely to be primary. Remember, also, that thin-blooded
vampires are still entitled to the one “free” dot in every Attribute
to reflect the fact that they were once human.
STEP THREE: ABILITIES
Neonates of the highest generations start with 12 dots
in their primary class of Abilities, eight in their secondary
class, and five in their tertiary Abilities. Again, Talents, Skills
or Knowledges may be primary. As is true for all starting
vampires, at this stage of character creation no Ability can
receive a rating higher than 3 dots.
STEP FOUR: ADVANTAGES
Like all vampires, the thin-blooded have Disciplines,
Backgrounds and Virtues.
DISCIPLINES
The thin-blooded begin play with only two dots in
Disciplines. They can buy more with freebie points. Note,
however, that 14th-generation vampires can never raise
any Discipline higher than four dots, and 15th-generation
vampires are limited to three dots in each Discipline.
Fourteenth-generation vampires who belong to a clan
may assign these starting dots only to their Clan Disciplines.
Caitiff may have any Discipline they can justify learning.
BACKGROUNDS
Just like all starting Vampire characters, the thin-blooded
receive five dots in Backgrounds. Here, positive and negative factors
balance out. On one hand, their weak position in vampire society
hinders them from developing the social influence that older and
stronger-blooded vampires enjoy. On the other hand, they have
not been dead long enough to withdraw completely from the
connections they had as mortals. The thin-blooded seldom find
opportunities to blood bond the mayor or control big corporations;
they are more likely, however, to keep good relations with a brother
on the police force, the family priest or an old office buddy.
Obviously, 14th- and 15th-generation vampires may not allocate
dots to Generation. They can, however, buy dots in a Background no other
vampire can have: Insight (see p.74 for the Insight Background).
VIRTUES
The thin-blooded don’t get shorted everywhere. They receive
seven dots to spend on their Virtues. Most thin-blooded subscribe to
the Virtues of Conscience, Self-Control and Courage, as virtually all
of them subscribe to the tenets of Humanity. It is possible, though
extremely unlikely, for a thin-blooded vampire to begin play on
a Path of Enlightenment; such characters receive only five points
worth of Virtues and do not enjoy a “free” dot in anything other than
Courage. Storytellers need not allow players to start thin-blooded
characters on Paths of Enlightenment, however. Only the Sabbat
and the independent clans espouse Paths of Enlightenment, as do
the rare, anomalous vampires who have bizarre reasons in their
past to do so. Very few thin-blooded vampires have had the time
or the opportunity to pursue alternate moralities.
STEP FIVE: FINISHING TOUCHES
The final steps in building a character involve calculating
the Willpower and Humanity scores, spending freebie points
(thus possibly getting more through Flaws) and finding the
character’s starting number of blood points.
WILLPOWER
Starting Willpower equals Courage rating, as for any
other vampire character.
HUMANITY
The character’s starting Humanity rating is derived just as
for other vampire characters (Conscience + Self-Control). Most
14th- and 15th-generation vampires follow Humanity. While
nothing outright forbids a thin-blooded vampire from following
a Path of Enlightenment, these “alternate moralities” demand
special (and often nasty) training over a course of years.
BLOOD POOL
As explained in Chapter One, blood pool gets a little
complicated for the thin-blooded. They can carry up to 10
blood points, just like a 13th-generation vampire. On the other
hand, they cannot use all those blood points to heal wounds,
raise Physical Attributes or fuel Disciplines. A 14th-generation
vampire can expend only eight of his blood points on such things.
A 15th-generation vampire can expend only six of his blood
points on anything but surviving through his daily sleep.
To begin, however, roll one die to find how many blood
points a thin-blooded character has at the start of play.
FREEBIE POINTS
As a partial compensation, 14th- and 15th-generation
starting characters receive 18 freebie points. Except for
Disciplines, all Traits cost the same as for normal vampires:
Additional dots of Disciplines cost more because of the thin-
blooded’s lack of training.
MERITS AND FLAWS
The Last Generations have access to all the Merits
and Flaws of other vampires. (Admittedly, some would
not make a great deal of sense. A lowly and despised 15th-
generation Caitiff is not likely to wield significant influence
over much domain or claim a prestigious sire.) They also
have three Flaws that define them: 14th Generation, 15th
Generation and Thin-Blooded. A starting character can
take up to seven points in Flaws — no more. The three
special Flaws count toward that total. Of course, a character
can have more Flaws if the player thinks they help define
the character; the character merely does not receive extra
freebie points for them. Also, Merits and Flaws are subject
to Storyteller discretion — Storytellers, if you don’t like
’em, don’t use ’em.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
74
NEW TRAITS
With the increase of high-generation vampires in the Time
of Thin Blood, certain new Traits have arisen among the undead.
As always, the Storyteller is the final arbiter of whether or not new
Traits are permitted in her chronicle, but these new Traits lend
themselves particularly well to thin-blooded characters.
NEW BACKGROUND
INSIGHT
“You will show our prince respect, whelp!” The hairy vampire
who called himself the scourge shoved Ray to the ground, which
was carpeted with a fabric the young Kindred had never felt before.
Ray gave him a withering glare, all it was in his power to do, given
the circumstances.
Behind Ray, someone cleared his throat — a curiously mortal
gesture. The woman wore a dazzling evening dress, as if this trifle
prevented her from doing whatever else it was she had designs on
tonight. She said, “Ah, young one. I see you have met Bernard.
I am his prince, just as I am yours.”
Ray tilted his head, his eyes glazing over briefly. “You’re not
the prince,” he whispered raggedly. “You killed the old prince and
took her face.”
Some vampires of the 14th and 15th Generations have
an uncanny, well, insight into the plots and intrigues of elder
vampires. They get strange hunches and prophetic dreams,
blurt out names they should not know and sometimes even
see waking visions of Gehenna.
Insight is only the most popular name for this knack.
Other names range from the pretentiously pseudo-scholarly,
such as “Prognostication,” to the casual and slangy, such as
“pickin’ up the vibes.” Vampires with Insight are called seers
(less often, oracles, Delphics or Cumaeans; also dreamers,
psychics, snoops and tattletales).
Insight has its origin in the near-death experience of the
Embrace. Thin-blooded vampires often spend a long time caught
at the brink of Final Death and oblivion. As they struggle back
to the lands of the (un)living, some new vampires see visions
of the past and future of the Kindred and learn secrets of the
Jyhad. When they wake up they forget most of what they saw,
just as mortals forget most of their dreams, but the knowledge
may return in visions or spontaneous hunches. If they ever
realize what’s going on, such seers can try to reconnect to the
source and deliberately provoke such visions.
Like all Backgrounds, Insight operates on a scale of one
to five dots.
• The occasional odd feeling
•• Intuitive
••• Visionary
•••• Uncanny
••••• You see more of the Jyhad’s movements than anyone
but the Ancients themselves.
Note, however, that Insight is not an All-Purpose Magic-
Answer Machine. Most of the time, Insight is vague, or the
visions are obscure and symbolic. The more powerful the
vampires involved, the less direct Insight will be. Even the
most successful Insight only refers to Antediluvians through
symbol and metaphor.
Example: While kneeling before the prince, Tisha the Caitiff
has a powerful flash of Insight. She sees the prince’s throat ripped
open by another vampire and blurts out, “Caesar, beware the ides
of March!” She doesn’t know that the prince’s grandsire is named
Brutus. She has seen the prince’s death in Gehenna, at the fangs
of his own Methuselah grandsire.
What’s more, Insight reveals only information about plots and
conflicts driven by vampires. This doesn’t necessarily involve the
lead-up to Gehenna… at least, not directly. The Methuselahs and
Antediluvians don’t control every vampire, or even every elder.
Most conflicts between vampires have no wider significance.
FREEBIE POINT COSTS
Attribute 5 per dot
Ability 2 per dot
Discipline 10 per dot
Background 1 per dot
Virtue 2 per dot
Humanity 1 per dot
Willpower 1 per dot
EXPERIENCE POINTS CHART
Many Traits have the same experience point cost to raise as for
normal vampires. Disciplines and Thaumaturgical Paths constitute
a notable exception. Because of the highest generations’ weak
blood, Disciplines and Paths of Thaumaturgy cost roughly twice
as many experience points as for lower-generation vampires.
Trait Cost
New Ability 3
New Path
(Thaumaturgy or Necromancy) 10
New Discipline 15
Attribute current rating x 4
Ability current rating x 2
Clan Discipline current rating x 10
Other Discipline current rating x 14
Secondary Path
(Thaumaturgy or Necromancy) current rating x 8
Caitiff (thin-blooded) Discipline current rating x 12
Virtue current rating x 2*
Humanity current rating x 2
Willpower current rating
* Increasing a Virtue through experience does not increase
Traits based on that Virtue (Humanity, Willpower)
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
75
On the other hand, the petty wars between the elders ensure
that the Kindred will not mount a unified resistance when the An-
cients awaken to devour their descendants. While the Ancients do
not cause every scheme and squabble, they benefit from these little
Jyhads. Insight detects such minor plots, too (and causes just as much
resentment among the elders whose secrets are revealed).
The spontaneous dreams, hunches and visions occur at the
Storyteller’s discretion. The Storyteller can use spontaneous
Insight to feed information to the character and lead her into
trouble (er, stories). The Storyteller decides when spontaneous
Insight occurs. On these occasions, she rolls one die per dot
of Insight the character has, at difficulty 6. The number of
successes determines the clarity of the information:
Botch Convincing but completely false informa-
tion.
Failure Nothing
1 success A vague sense of hidden significance.
2 successes Knowledge that a person, object or event is
important. A name, face or symbolic image of
a person, but without explanation.
3 successes Hints to hidden plots, but in puzzling symbols and
riddles. At least one significant detail is clearly
revealed.
4 successes Significant information clearly revealed — but
not completely. Perhaps one short scene about
an Ancient’s activities, or someone’s fate when
Gehenna comes.
5 successes Dangerous detail. One person’s motives revealed
in full. Major participants in a conflict identi-
fied, but without explanation.
Someone with Insight can also deliberately try to provoke a
hunch or vision about a person or situation. This usually provides
less detailed information and may well fail completely. In rules
terms, the player of the character can make an Insight roll (one
die per point of the Background she possesses), but at difficulty 8.
It’s all too easy to deceive oneself and mistake some stray thought
for a psychic flash.
If the Insight roll gives disappointing results, the player can
roll again in a later scene — but at difficulty 9. The player can try
again in scenes after that, but at difficulty 10. At this point, rolling
a botch becomes as likely as rolling a success. A seer can’t keep
begging the Great Beyond for clues about another vampire. The
difficulty for deliberate Insight drops back to 8 only when a new
chapter of the story begins.
A seer’s player can make deliberate Insight rolls for as many
subjects as she wants — so long as the subjects have no relation
to each other. The Storyteller has final say over whether two
queries are genuinely distinct, or just an attempt to approach a
single subject from different angles.
If a character fails or botches two Insight rolls in the same
scene, she becomes exhausted and unable to call upon the powers
of Insight for the remainder of the story (not the scene). Also, only
vampires of the 14th and 15th Generations may possess Insight.
GROUP INSIGHT
A group of seers can try for deliberate Insight together in order to
get more information. In stark rules terms, this is easy. Each seer makes
an Insight roll at difficulty 8, and then they pool their successes. (They
also pool their ones, so deliberate Insight still isn’t completely reliable).
To participate, however, each seer must expend a Willpower point.
This expenditure does not add automatic successes to the Insight roll,
though; it only lets each seer contribute to the pool of successes.
In storytelling terms, group Insight is a bit more difficult. Just
gathering a group of seers may be a challenge. Even if two seers
meet, they won’t necessarily trust each other. In some regions,
clever scourges may employ fake seers as “Judas goats” to draw
real seers out of hiding so the latter can be imprisoned or slain.
Gathering a group of seers can become a story in itself.
Additionally, the seers must agree on some sort of ritual to
guide their attempt at Insight. Real occult beliefs provide many
examples of divinatory rituals, from Ouija boards and Tarot cards
to reading the entrails of slaughtered animals. Without some such
ritual framework, the seers cannot pool their successes.
(This doesn’t mean that the ritual has any genuine magic
power. Any agreed-upon ritual will do. The ritual merely has to
put the participants in a special frame of mind, in which they
accept that they can pull knowledge from the void.)
At first the characters should have no idea how group Insight
works. When they hear that it may be possible, or speculate about this
themselves, the Storyteller can build more stories about attempts to
learn how group Insight works. Characters can search for other seers
who have successfully performed group Insight (or think they have…),
consult occultists and magicians, or read arcane texts for guidance. If
the characters decide that obtaining a group vision requires that they
offer up one of their number as a sacrifice in the deepest chamber
of the Great Pyramid, the Storyteller is under no obligation to tell
them that they’d do as well sitting around a Ouija board.
After all this trouble, the rewards may be great. The par-
ticipants may well discover one of the great secrets of the Jyhad,
such as the true goal of a particular Methuselah. As with solo
deliberate Insight, they can make multiple attempts — but again,
the difficulty rises each time.
INSIGHT AND AUSPEX
Auspex and Insight work well together. Auspex can some-
times trigger episodes of spontaneous Insight; Insight can tell
when one should use Auspex.
Heightened Perception (Auspex Level One) sometimes
warns its possessor of danger, from immediate threats (such as a gun
pointed at the character) to subtle threats (such as an enemy’s plot
to murder him). If a threat connects to the schemes of local elders,
sensing the threat through Auspex may also trigger spontaneous
Insight about the motivations behind the threat.
Example: Tisha senses a sniper aiming a rifle at her, just in time to
prevent her head from being splattered. The Storyteller decides that, as
she runs, she has a flash of spontaneous Insight: She gets a hunch that a
Brujah gang lord is involved. Since she received only two successes on her
Insight roll, she doesn’t know whether the old Brujah actually ordered the
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
76
murder attempt. He could also be “involved” because someone feared
that Tisha would help him, or for some other reason.
The Spirit’s Touch (Auspex Level Three) complements
Insight if the object scanned has some significance in a Jyhad.
Most simply, a flash of spontaneous Insight can tell a character
that an object is worth examining.
Example: While Brody visits the haven of a contact in the Camarilla,
the sight of a TV remote-control fills him with obscure dread (one success
on spontaneous Insight). Brody asks his friend to humor him while he
uses Spirit’s Touch. Brody receives two successes: He sees a vision of
a ring of fire around the remote, and hears a ghostly chanting. When
he reports this result, his friend smashes the remote with a hammer and
dumps it in the trash. She explains herself with one word, a word new
to Brody: “Tremere!” But what nefarious spell did the Tremere place
on the TV remote, and why?
A character can also use deliberate Insight with Spirit’s
Touch to get more information about people who have interacted
with an object in the past. Normally, Spirit’s Touch provides
only basic information about a person who used an object, such
as her age, gender, hair color or emotional state at the time.
Perhaps the Auspex user envisions a “snapshot” of a scene in
the past — but without explanation. Deliberate Insight can add
details of motivation that Spirit’s Touch cannot detect. Best of
all, every two successes on Spirit’s Touch reduces the difficulty
of deliberate Insight by one (divide the number of successes by
two and round down).
Example: The Ventrue primogen greatly values his icon, Caine
as Prince of the First City. When Brody uses Spirit’s Touch on the
small painted plaque, he finds that the primogen received the icon from a
middle-aged man in the garb of a Renaissance nobleman (Brody received
a very good roll to get information from a hundred years ago). Auspex
does not explain that the man was the primogen’s sire, but Insight may.
With a good Insight roll, Brody might even learn that the primogen’s
sire gave him the icon as a reminder of loyalty, and the primogen now
schemes to become prince as part of his sire’s plans.
All these results assume that the object does in fact have
some connection to a Jyhad. Most objects do not — not even
when their owner is hip-deep in intrigue.
Example: Spirit’s Touch on the prince’s heavy, brass paperweight
reveals that someone used it to kill someone else. The full story is that the
prince used the paperweight to bash in the skull of an Anarch leader’s
insulting ghoul. Insight won’t detect that, though: The prince did the
murder in a fit of temper, not as part of some extended scheme.
INSIGHT AND DEMENTATION
Dementation Level Three can reveal hidden information
in much the same way as Insight (although Eyes of Chaos is not
limited to the doings of the Jyhad). Eyes of Chaos can complement
Insight much as Auspex can. For every success at deliberate Insight,
the difficulty for an Eyes of Chaos examination drops by one, or
vice versa, depending on which the character uses first.
INSIGHT SHOCK
One can see entirely too much through group Insight. The
seers may get so much information, of such a shocking nature
and perceived so intensely, that their minds shut down from
the overload.
If Group Insight results in 6 or more successes, all the
participants must make a Willpower roll with the number of
Group Insight successes as the difficulty. If a participant succeeds
at this roll, she is shaken but unharmed. If she fails, she enters
an involuntary torpor (see Vampire: The Masquerade, p. 216
for the duration of torpor).
INSIGHT AND TORPOR
Every time a vampire with Insight enters an involuntary
torpor (including through insight shock) she may experience
spontaneous insight. Once more, her soul walks the boundary of
oblivion and eternity, with the past and future spread before her.
Just as she did in her Embrace, she forgets most of what she sees
in her death-dreams… but not all of it. She may awaken with a
valuable new clue to the Great Jyhad.
A seer’s player might think of inducing a bout of Insight by
having the character wound or starve herself into torpor. This
rarely works; the Great Beyond is not so easily fooled. Because
the torpor comes about through the character’s own desire, it is
not really involuntary. The Storyteller should use the rules for
deliberate Insight instead.
After a torpor-induced episode of Insight, the Storyteller
should also review how well the seer has been played. Did the player
make the character’s Insight an important aspect of the character
and the story? (Whether the character loves his Insight, hates it,
is awed by its power or is maddened by its inconstancy doesn’t
matter. Only the intensity of the character’s involvement does
matter.) If so, the Storyteller may award the character another
dot of Insight (up to the maximum of 5). The character’s repeated
sojourn at the border of death has strengthened her connection
to the source of Insight. On the other hand, if the Storyteller feels
that the player has treated Insight as just another game mechanic
or “kewl” power, she does not need to grant the added Insight.
LAST GENERATION FLAWS
(AND MERITS)
Except for the two Flaws that define the 14th and 15th
Generations, all Merits and Flaws are strictly optional. A
Storyteller doesn’t have to allow them unless he wants to;
they can, however, add “color” to a character.
THIN BLOOD DEFINED
If a new character has a generation lower than 13th, this costs
Background dots or freebie points. Conversely, a 14th- or 15th-
generation vampire earns bonus freebie points in addition to the
ones he receives automatically as part of character creation for taking
Thin Blood. Taking either of these generational Flaws obviously
precludes buying the Generation Background. Vampires of the Last
Generations also may not begin play with any sort of Status.
The Last Generations also have the Flaw of “Thin Blood.” For
14th-generation vampires, this flaw is common but not mandatory.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
77
Fifteenth-generation vampires have it automatically (it is factored into
their generation Flaw) and other debilities besides — but also certain
advantages that counterbalance them. Other vampires can take the
Thin Blood Flaw, but vampires of lower generation do not get benefits
of the Insight Background or the ability to create new Disciplines.
Chapter One discusses various aspects of the 14th and
15th Generations in greater detail.
14TH GENERATION (2-PT. PHYSICAL FLAW)
You were sired just a few years ago by a member of the 13th
Generation. Although you can have up to 10 blood points in
your body, you can use only eight of them to heal wounds, raise
Attributes or fuel those Disciplines that require vitae.
You can still use the final two blood points for other
purposes, though. The blood point costs of nightly rising,
creating/sustaining ghouls and creating blood bonds remains
the same as for other vampires.
You cannot raise any Discipline above Level Four.
Many 14th-generation vampires also have other Flaws related
to their thin blood — especially the “Thin Blood” Flaw itself.
15TH GENERATION (4-PT. PHYSICAL FLAW)
Your vitae is so weak that only six of your 10 blood points
can be used for Disciplines, healing or raising Attributes. For these
functions, you must expend two blood points to obtain the effect
a normal vampire would achieve with one. (The cost for nightly
rising remains a single blood point.) What’s more, you cannot
create or sustain ghouls, create a blood bond or sire a vampiric
childe. You can use the remaining four blood points to survive
through the day and wake up each night, nothing more.
You cannot raise any Discipline above Level Three.
The weakening of the Curse of Caine has compensations,
though (which distinguish this Flaw from the Thin Blood
Flaw itself). Sunlight does lethal damage to you, instead of
aggravated damage as it does to other vampires. You can hold
down mortal food and drink for an hour or so; other vampires
vomit immediately if they try (unless they have the Eat Food
Merit). Strangest of all, once in a while you might actually
have a child the normal, human way… though it will not be
a normal human child!
THIN BLOOD (4-PT. PHYSICAL FLAW)
The Curse of Caine runs weakly in your blood. While you
suffer all the ill effects of vampirism, from the need for blood to
taking aggravated damage from sunlight, you do not receive all the
compensating supernatural powers. While you can expend blood
points to heal wounds, raise Attributes or fuel those Disciplines
that need them, all blood point costs are doubled. What’s more,
your vitae cannot sustain ghouls or create blood bonds. When you
try to sire childer, the Embrace only has a 20 percent chance to
succeed. Otherwise, it leaves you with an inconvenient corpse.
OTHER FLAWS
The Last Generations are prone to other Flaws as well, reflect-
ing the weakness of Caine’s curse and blessing upon them.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
78
RAVAGING YEARS (2-PT. SUPERNATURAL FLAW)
The curse of Caine did not grant you immortality. You still
age, just very slowly — perhaps one mortal year for every 20
calendar years. Most of the time, neither you nor anyone else
would notice, but eventually you will grow old and die.
Sometimes your aging speeds up: Like a ghoul, your
deferred aging can return in a rush. Whenever you heal ag-
gravated wounds, you age a year in the course of a single day’s
sleep. That may not sound like much, but over the course of a
century it can really add up. It gives a great incentive to avoid
sunlight, fire and the fangs of one’s fellow vampires.
HEMETIC (4-PT. MENTAL FLAW)
The very idea of drinking blood disgusts you and makes you
physically ill… awkward for a vampire. In order to hold the blood
within your system until you absorb it, you must make a Stamina
roll at difficulty 8. Failure means the sudden, humiliating and
extremely messy loss of all newly consumed blood points as you
retch them out (the truly pathetic could carry a barf bag and try
again). The only way to avoid nausea is to feed while frenzying:
In that horrid state, with the Beast in full control, you can keep
blood down. Aside from the social embarrassment frenzy can cause,
however, it tends to endanger the Masquerade; you might as well
phone up the local scourge and ask if he makes house calls.
CLAN WEAKNESS (2-PT. SUPERNATURAL FLAW)
This one’s for Caitiff. Even though you did not become a
full member of your sire’s clan, and do not get the cost break for
Clan Disciplines, you still suffer from that clan’s natural weak-
ness. What’s more, some Caitiff just spontaneously replicate clan
weaknesses, with no connection to their ancestry. While this
can help one pretend to be a member of the appropriate clan,
it can be deadly if one does not know about it — or what other
vampires might think. (In Camarilla territory, for instance, a
Caitiff who casts no reflection — the notorious weakness of the
Lasombra clan — might have to answer hard questions.)
DECREPITUDE (3-PT. SUPERNATURAL FLAW)
No thin-blooded vampire has felt the full force of this
Flaw. None of them have existed long enough. In time, they
will learn its full horror.
The Curse of Caine holds most vampires in ageless stasis,
repairing any damage they might suffer. In your case, the Curse
doesn’t always succeed at fully repairing damage. When healing
aggravated damage, the player must make a Stamina roll. The
difficulty is 5 plus the number of levels of aggravated damage cur-
rently sustained (For instance, if you had taken 2 health levels of
aggravated damage, the difficulty would be 7. After healing one
level, the difficulty would drop to 6.) Failure means that, despite
regaining the health level, your body still shows signs of damage.
Perhaps burnt hair won’t regrow or a healed wound leaves a scar.
Botching the roll means losing one dot of some Physical Attribute
or Appearance, chosen by the Storyteller.
You can repair this damage, if you know a skilled plastic surgeon
— or mortician — who is privy to the Masquerade, but it’s not easy.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
79
Garlic, Cast No Reflection and Can’t Cross Running Water. (See
Vampire: The Masquerade for descriptions of these Flaws.)
Further Flaws of Superstition from European lore include:
• Compulsive Counter (2-pt. Mental Flaw): If you see
collections of small, identical objects (such as a scattered
handful of rice or marbles), you feel compelled to pick them
up and count them. You can resist the obsession if you make
a successful Willpower roll. The difficulty depends on how
much you must count: A scattered handful of rice (hundreds
of grains) gives a difficulty of only 6, but a handful of marbles
(only a dozen or so) would force a difficulty of 9.
• Repulsed by Wild Rose (1-pt. Supernatural Flaw): As
“Repulsed by Garlic,” but using flowering sprigs of wild rose
instead. Hawthorn, rowan and celandine also have legendary
status as repellers of vampires.
• Feeding Fetish (1-pt. Mental Flaw): You feel compelled to
bite only a specific part of the body to feed. Attempting to bite a
victim anywhere else forces a Willpower check (difficulty 6). The
neck, of course, is most traditional, but the legendary Armenian
vampire Dakhanavar bit only the soles of his victim’s feet.
• Power Fetish (3-pt. Supernatural Flaw): You believe
that much of your supernatural power depends on carrying
a specific object (the Alp, a German vampire-spirit, needed
its hat). Without that unique object, you must succeed at
a Willpower check (difficulty 8) to activate any Discipline
power.
After all, the surgeon has to do a fair bit of cutting too. On the one
hand, you receive a difficulty of only 6 to heal the wounds caused by
the surgeon. On the other hand, you might receive another botch
and be worse off than before.
As the decades pass and Attributes drop, decay sets in. Even-
tually you become a shambling, animate corpse. At such a point,
Final Death may seem a mercy.
See the 5-point physical Flaw “Flesh of the Corpse” in Vampire:
The Masquerade for an even more severe version of this debility.
FANGLESS (2-PT. PHYSICAL FLAW)
Your Embrace malfunctioned: the Curse of Caine made
you a vampire… but it didn’t give you fangs! You must use a
knife, syringe or other sharp instrument to extract the blood
you need to survive. Very few mortals find such exsanguination
pleasant, at least until you place your mouth to the wound (then
the Kiss proceeds as normal). Having no fangs also removes
your one natural way to cause aggravated damage.
FLAWS OF SUPERSTITION (COST VARIES)
Often, the Last Generations get their ideas about what it
means to be a vampire from books and movies. That includes
ideas about what can hurt them. The mysterious power of the
Embrace, however, can make these delusions real. For instance,
a new vampire who expects to be repelled by crosses might find
herself taking real damage from a crucifix’s touch. Other good
Flaws of Superstition include Smell of the Grave, Repulsed by
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
80
WARD (3-PT. SOCIAL FLAW)
A mortal whom you want to protect depends on you in
some way. They need a lot of protection, too: Wards have a way
of getting sucked into awkward situations, forcing you to change
your own plans or even put yourself in danger. No matter how
many people depend on you, however, you can take this Flaw
only once.
A ward could be a relative, a lover, a friend or just about
any mortal to whom one has a strong connection. Wards have
no special influence or abilities they can offer in return (if
they did, they would be Allies or Contacts).
Does the Ward know that you are a vampire? Keeping
a Ward from knowing requires great effort. You spend a lot
more time with a Ward than with a casual friend, under more
demanding circumstances. Sooner or later, you have to explain
away strange events and behavior: Why she never sees you
during the day, or why a mugger’s bullet knocked you down
but didn’t make you bleed. Letting a Ward in on your biggest
secret endangers the Masquerade, though.
(OH YES, MERITS TOO)
The weakening of the Curse of Caine also might reduce some
of the standard vampiric weaknesses. As described above, 15th-
generation vampires take only lethal damage from sunlight. Some
of the standard Merits are also particularly appropriate for the Last
Generations (though, as always, Merits are strictly optional.) See
Vampire: The Masquerade for full descriptions of these merits.
• Eat Food (1-pt. Physical Merit): You can still consume mortal
food and drink. You can’t digest it, but at least you can hold it
down for a few hours before you must vomit it up again. You can
also still appreciate the tastes. (15th-generation vampires get this
for free as an intrinsic feature of their generation).
• Blush of Health (2-pt. Physical Merit): You can seem still alive,
with a normal complexion, regular breathing and even a heartbeat.
• Light Sleeper (2-pt. Mental Merit): Unlike other vampires, you
wake up easily when a ruckus occurs nearby, and the Humanity
limit on dice pools during the day is waived.
• Calm Heart (3-pt. Mental Merit): The Beast is weaker in you,
giving you two extra dice on rolls to resist frenzy.
The weakening Curse suggests other potential Merits, too:
• Inoffensive to Animals (1-pt. Supernatural Merit): Animals
usually hate and fear the undead. Most vampires need the super-
natural force of Animalism to overpower this instinctive revulsion.
In your case, however, animals still respond to you as if you were
a mortal. This Merit does not mean that they automatically like
you, only that they do not automatically dislike you. Dogs do not
snarl and bark when you walk by; cats do not hiss, spit and run
away; parakeets, in their efforts to escape your unholy presence,
do not batter themselves against their cages.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
81
The chief benefit of this Merit is that you can interact with
people who have pets. The Merit also makes Animalism easier:
All dice rolls involved have their difficulties reduced by 1.
• Face the Flames (3-pt. Mental Merit): The weakness of your
Beast renders you less susceptible to blind panic when faced with
fire. You receive two extra dice on Rötschreck rolls.
The Last Generations’ ability to create new Disciplines and pull
information from the ether might also make various supernatural
Merits appropriate to some characters. A supernatural Merit might
even represent the first step in a new Discipline’s emergence.
Existing Merits include:
• Medium (2-pt. Supernatural Merit): Although you can’t see
ghosts, you can sense their presence, hear them speak and talk to them
yourself. How you get along with them is a separate problem.
• Oracular Ability (3-pt. Supernatural Merit): You can see and
interpret signs and omens. Like Insight, this gives clues to the
future and to hidden workings of the present. Unlike that Back-
ground, Oracular Ability may deal with any subject, not just the
activities of vampires.
Finally, the thin-blooded generally don’t know that they are not
supposed to talk to strangers. As a result, they might innocently
form connections with other supernaturals. Vampire: the Mas-
querade already includes the Merit, “Spirit Mentor” (a ghost who
sometimes gives advice and minor assistance). Storytellers may
extend this to other supernatural races as well:
• Supernatural Contact (3-pt. Social Merit): You know a werewolf,
mage, fae, Kuei-jin, hedge magician or some other supernatural
being. This does not mean that you are boon companions, only
that the two of you don’t follow the usual kill-on-sight policy
between supernaturals. If players want a more cordial relation-
ship between characters of different races, they must develop it
themselves in the course of play.
Remember that while Contacts may perform favors, they expect
favors in return. What’s more, your Supernatural Contact is
probably just as marginalized in his own community as the thin-
blooded are among the Kindred. At the very least, you both risk
disgrace in your respective communities.
DHAMPIRS: CHILDREN
OF THE UNDEAD
A 15th-generation vampire of either gender can have
half-mortal offspring, conceived and born the normal way.
In their folklore, the Gypsies call such a child of the living
and the undead a dhampir.
In game terms, dhampirs are almost identical to revenants.
Actually, they are revenants, except they’re descended from
vampires instead of from ghouls (see Ghouls: Fatal Addiction
for information on revenants).
The most important differences between dhampirs and
revenants are cultural. Revenants grow up in a freakish,
monstrous subculture of vampires and ghouls. Only quite
unusual circumstances could lead to a revenant growing up
among normal, contemporary humans. A dhampir probably
spent most of her time among normal humans. She might not
even know about her supernatural heritage. Learning about
the secret World of Darkness may come as a bit of a shock.
CHARACTER CONCEPT
All dhampirs are young, without exception. The thin-blooded
themselves have appeared only within the last 20 years. Most
likely, a dhampir character will be the first of his kind — at least
in his vicinity. Neither he nor anyone else will know what powers
and pitfalls he may expect. Any dhampir may expect a turbulent
adolescence, though. Many parents think that their teenager is
a beast. A dhampir carries a real Beast in his soul, even if it isn’t
as strong as the raging Beast of a vampire.
• Family Background: What circumstances led to your
conception? Did a one-night stand result in a pregnancy, greatly
surprising all concerned? Or did your parents try to maintain a
normal marriage, despite one of them being a vampire? Who raised
you, and how? Was your childhood happy, troubled or horribly
tragic? Are your parents — human or vampire — still around?
• Discovery: How did you learn that you had supernatural
powers? Have you even figured it out, or do you rationalize your
abilities as exceptional but mundane talents? Has your half-
vampiric nature caused trouble for you? (Very likely, if you have
frenzied.) How do you feel about being part supernatural: Is it a
curse, a blessing, or taken for granted?
• Knowledge: How much do you know of the supernatural
world? Assuming your parents still live (er, exist), did they let you
in on the big secret? Or did you just think they acted weird?
• The Future: In general, what do you want to do with your
life? In particular, what do you intend to do with your abilities? Did
you enter the World of Darkness willingly, or were you dragged in
screaming? Now that you’re in, do you want to escape back into
the illusion of a normal life?
After such basic considerations of character, you select the
character’s Nature, Demeanor and Archetype. (Yes, even a teenager
should have an Archetype, based on her social background and
what she expects from life. An Archetype such as “Professional”
could be seen as a statement of intent, if nothing else.)
TRAITS
Dhampirs receive six dots for their primary class of At-
tributes, four dots for their secondary class, and three for
their tertiary class (in addition to the one free dot in each
Attribute, of course).
Then a dhampir receives eleven dots to divide among
primary Abilities, seven for secondary and four for tertiary
Abilities. No class of Attributes or Abilities is more likely to
be primary — it’s completely up to the player. At this stage,
however, no Ability can receive more than three dots.
Like ghouls, dhampirs start play with one dot of Potence. They
can also have one dot in any other common vampiric Discipline.
Character concept should guide the choice: A self-taught dhampir
will probably develop a Discipline that fits his or her personality
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
82
and needs, whereas a dhampir with a vampiric Mentor could
learn one of the Mentor’s Disciplines. At the start of play, a
dhampir can have only one dot in each Discipline.
Dhampirs receive five dots to spend on Backgrounds.
Admittedly, these aren’t very good Backgrounds — not many
teenagers are millionaires or have powerful political connec-
tions. Purely vampiric Backgrounds such as Generation or
Herd obviously don’t apply, either. On the other hand, players
and Storytellers can have fun interpreting Backgrounds in
an appropriately youth-oriented way. For instance, popularity
in school could justify a dot of Influence, or sports success
would bring local Fame (even one dot of Potence is lovely
on the football field).
Just like normal humans, dhampirs receive one free dot
in the Virtues of Conscience, Self-Control and Courage, and
then seven dots to allocate as they please.
Willpower and Humanity are calculated normally.
Finally, dhampirs get 18 freebie points to spend on further
Traits or Merits. Flaws can add up to seven more freebie points.
Again, some Merits and Flaws obviously cannot apply to
non-vampires.
BLOOD POOL
Dhampirs make their own weak vitae. They have 10 blood
points of vitae, which they regenerate at a rate of 1 blood point per
day. (A dhampir can also drink vampiric vitae to regain expended
blood points more quickly, or to replace some of its own blood points
with more potent vitae. A dhampir who has at least one blood point
of true vampiric vitae in his veins is also technically a ghoul. A
dhampir does not gain any extra powers from being a ghoul, except
for the potential to learn higher-level Discipline powers.)
Dhampirs exceed their 15th-generation parents in that
they may expend all 10 blood points on healing, Disciplines
or raising Attributes, at normal costs. Dhampirs cannot make
FREEBIE POINT PURCHASES
Disciplines/Paths 10 per dot
Attributes 5 per dot
Abilities 2 per dot
Virtues 2 per dot
Backgrounds 1 per dot
Willpower 1 per dot
Humanity/Path 1 per dot
blood bonds, create ghouls or sire vampiric childer; nor must
they expend blood points just to stay active.
Unlike a vampire, a dhampir’s blood pool score has nothing to
do with the amount of fluid in her veins. Instead, dhampir “blood
points” are purely supernatural. Dhampirs who spend every last
blood point don’t lose a single drop of physical blood, though
they may show symptoms of anemia. They’re merely exhausted,
both physically and supernaturally. In a few days, the blood will
regain its supernatural “charge” and become vitae again.
DHAMPIR ABILITIES AND WEAKNESSES
Dhampirs have the standard abilities of ghouls. They can
use normal Stamina to soak lethal and bashing damage, but not
aggravated damage. They may expend blood points to raise their
Strength, Dexterity or Stamina, or to heal wounds. For lethal or
bashing damage, each blood point expended heals one health
level of damage. A dhampir can even try to regenerate a severed
limb, although this requires spending a Willpower point and
making a Stamina roll (difficulty 8). If the roll fails, the dhampir
can never regrow that limb. The cost to regenerate a body part
ranges from merely one blood point, for a finger or eye, to three
for an entire arm or leg.
A dhampir may also frenzy, however. Dhampirs resist frenzy
more easily that vampires can (their difficulties are reduced by
THE DHAMPIR GHOUL
On her own, a dhampir can never have more than one dot in any Discipline. If a dhampir becomes a ghoul and her sponsor
(or “domitor”) is of sufficiently low generation, however, she can learn higher-level Discipline powers. The stronger the vitae fed
to her, the more powerful her Disciplines may become… given a great deal of time.
If the dhampir ceases to be a ghoul, she loses all her higher-level Discipline powers. Even if she later becomes a ghoul again,
with a domitor of sufficiently low generation, the character must re-learn higher-level powers from the beginning (and the player
must spend the experience points again, too).
Sponsor’s Generation Maximum Discipline Level Optional Maximum Discipline Level
13th-11th 1 1
10th-9th 1 2
8th 1 3
7th 2 3
6th 3 4
5th 4 4
4th 5 5
The optional maximum is provided for Storytellers who want to make relatively powerful ghouls more common.
Don’t assume that your Storyteller uses this option unless she specifically says so.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
83
three), but it still happens from time to time. The Storyteller
decides what situations might provoke a frenzy: Living in the
thick of human society, with all its frustrations, a dhampir risks
frenzy far more often than most vampires ever will.
As usual when frenzy threatens a character, the dhampir’s
player must make a Self-Control roll; the difficulty depends on
the circumstance that angers or frustrates the character. For the
character to overcome frenzy completely, the player must accu-
mulate five successes. Each success rolled delays the frenzy for one
turn. The player may not roll more dice than there are points of
vitae in the dhampir’s Blood Pool.
Dhampirs never suffer from Rötschreck.
Typical Provocation Difficulty
Verbally harassed or threatened 3
Drunkenness or use of narcotics or hallucinogens 3
Beaten, struck or knocked down 4
Loved one endangered 4
Private humiliation 4
Total public humiliation 5
Gunshot, knife wound or other lethal damage 5
Crushing rejection by a loved one 6
DHAMPIR CROSSOVER CHARACTERS
Eventually, someone is bound to ask whether a dhampir could
Awaken as a True Mage. Or also be Garou Kinfolk and learn Rites.
Or become a Mummy. And so on, and so on, and so on.
Short answer: Not only no, but hell, no!
Long answer: Your game is your own. If you really want
to permit a dhampir Kinfolk Gypsy Mummy Mage, that’s
your business. Just don’t expect us to help you. Dhampirs
are cool enough that they don’t need to be hybridized with
other supernatural races… And if all you want is an excuse
for a more powerful character, you may be playing the wrong
game. Dhampirs aren’t supposed to be world-beaters.
CHOOSING DISCIPLINES
In theory, Caitiff vampires and dhampirs can learn any
Discipline as readily as any other. In practice, it’s not so easy.
For many Disciplines, one needs a teacher — and again, Caitiff
are no exception. Thus, even though dhampirs and Caitiff of the
Last Generations pay the same point cost for every Discipline,
some Disciplines are easier to justify than others.
PHYSICAL DISCIPLINES
The “physical” Disciplines of Celerity, Fortitude and
Potence are the easiest to learn. After all, they merely extend
the vampire’s intrinsic ability to boost its Physical Attributes
by using the Blood. Any vampire (thin-blooded or not) can
learn them through instinct — even if they are easier for some
clans than others. It’s just a matter of really, really wanting to
be stronger, quicker or tougher — and of practice.
OTHER COMMON DISCIPLINES
The common “psychic” Disciplines of Auspex, Dominate,
Obfuscate and Presence are pretty easy to learn, too. They do
not require special justification. Since many vampires know
these Disciplines, one can easily find a teacher. Indeed, many
of these powers are familiar from popular portrayals of vam-
pires — thanks to ancient legends and occasional breaches
of the Masquerade. A dhampir or Caitiff won’t actually learn
a Discipline from watching cheesy vampire movies, but she
might take them as inspiration, try to imitate what she sees
and eventually succeed.
Protean does not require a special tutor either. Although
the Gangrel remain its masters and chief practitioners, many
vampires of other clans have learned the shapeshifting art.
Perhaps more importantly, knowledge of Protean has seeped
into legends and popular culture. Even the most ignorant
childe knows that some vampires can change into animals.
Once again, repeated effort might lead to success.
Practice at mortal skills might help a character de-
velop a Discipline. Books on hypnosis might help one learn
Dominate; spending lots of times with animals could lead to
Animalism. Most of the standard Disciplines require training
at mundane Abilities to use them well. To some degree, the
psychic Disciplines merely add supernatural force to natural
Abilities — for instance, magnifying persuasion or command
into Dominate, or unobtrusiveness into Obfuscate.
MAGICAL DISCIPLINES
On the other hand, one does not casually acquire
Necromancy or Thaumaturgy. These Disciplines do require
instruction from a vampire who already knows them, for
they depend as much upon complex occult theories as upon
the power of the Blood. Unfortunately, the vampire clans
who specialize in such magic hold these Disciplines jeal-
ously. Nothing less than a life boon — and maybe not even
EXPERIENCE POINTS CHART
Trait Cost
New Ability 3
New Thaumaturgy Path 20
New Discipline 20
Willpower current rating
Humanity current rating x 2
Virtue current rating x 2
Ability current rating x 2
Attribute current rating x 5
Thaumaturgy Path current rating x 15
Discipline* current rating x 25
* Unlike revenants, dhampirs have no “family” Discipline
set. Like Caitiff, they pay for their lack of specialization through
a higher experience point cost for Disciplines. Remember,
though, that a dhampir can gain a second or further dot in a
Discipline only if it has become a ghoul!
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
84
DHAMPIR LEGENDS
Storytellers who want to read more about dhampir legends are referred to “The Vampire” by T. P. Vukanovic, in
Jan L. Perkowski’s Vampires of the Slavs.
According to the Gypsies of the former Yugoslavia, men who die and come back as vampires hunger for sex as much
as for blood. Married men in particular return to their wives. The Gypsies call the child of such an unnatural union
Vampiric (“Little Vampire”), Vampijerovic/Lampijerovic (“Son of the Vampire”) or Dhampir. These might even become
the child’s name: Vampir/Dhampir for boys, Vampiresa/Dhampiresa for girls.
In some regions, alleged dhampirs can become highly respected members of the community. “Without him,” the
Gypsies of Upper Morava say, “there would be much evil.”
Some tales say that a newborn dhampir has a formless, boneless body. Although the dhampir’s body firms up over
the next few weeks, she remains unusually fragile. (Other legends omit this detail. It may be a mix-up with legends that
attribute such a jellylike state to new vampires in their first weeks after death.)
The tales agree, however, that the dhampir has an uncanny power to see vampires (many Balkan legends claim that
vampires go about invisibly). This made the dhampir a vampire hunter par excellence. Many a supposed dhampir made
a good living going from village to village to exterminate vampires.
First the dhampir would scout the village. Perhaps he would take off his shirt and peer through the outstretched
sleeve as if it were a telescope. The dhampir would describe the vampire as a Serb, a Turk, a Gypsy, a snake or a cat (all
common forms in Balkan legend). He might wrestle with the unseen vampire before destroying it. Killing a vampire
might be as simple as shooting it, or it might require elaborate charms and procedures at the gravesite. Such dhampir
hunters of vampires remained active in the area of modern Kosovo as recently as the 1950s; perhaps they still are.
Could these legends be true? Even if only a few dhampirs ever existed in the past, they could have inspired tales that
self-proclaimed “vampire hunters” imitated in later centuries. After all, the Balkans are Tzimisce country. Centuries ago,
a Fiend might have performed bizarre and unholy experiments that resulted in breeding a dhampir or two. And it’s true
that dhampirs would make superb vampire hunters, what with their ability to mimic so many vampiric powers.
Then again, dhampir legends might be just that — legends. Balkan vampire legends don’t match the facts of the
Kindred very well. The “invisible vampires” can walk by day; they arise spontaneously, without contagion from another
vampire. People even tell stories about vampire pumpkins! Dhampir legends could arise from misunderstood encounters
with the Tzimisce’s pet revenants. They might even be disinformation to protect the Masquerade and delude mortals
about what vampires can do. In that case, the elders responsible might have a few nervous thoughts about what other
lies might come true in the nights ahead.
For Storytellers who want the Balkan legends to have a grain of truth in them, here are a Merit and a Flaw just for
dhampirs:
PERCEIVE VAMPIRES (2/5-PT. SUPERNATURAL MERIT)
A dhampir with this Merit can always recognize a vampire for what it is. This Merit comes at two power levels.
For two points, the dhampir can automatically recognize a vampire despite makeup, Merits such as Blush of Health
or Thaumaturgical rituals that let a vampire mimic certain aspects of life. Obfuscate works only partially. The dhampir
cannot see an “invisible” vampire, but knows that one lurks nearby. A dhampir sees the false image created by Mask of
a Thousand Faces, but still knows that the person is really a vampire.
For five points, the dhampir automatically sees through any attempt at disguise. Even the mightiest Obfuscate power
from a Methuselah doesn’t work: The vampire remains visible to the dhampir, its undead nature clearly recognized.
The legends also say that a dhampir can briefly let other people see “invisible” vampires too, by looking through
the dhampir’s shirt-sleeve or by some other simple charm. Balkan dhampirs warn, however, that mere mortals may suf-
fer a nervous breakdown, three years of malaria or some other calamity from the shock of seeing the undead plainly. If
dhampirs can share their gift (Storyteller’s option whether to allow this), raise the Merit’s cost by two freebie points.
(The curse aspect of the legends is obviously false. After all, mortals see Masquerading vampires all the time. Admit-
tedly, seeing a Nosferatu when you weren’t mentally prepared for it could put you off your feed for days.)
FRAGILE BONES (5-PT. PHYSICAL FLAW)
Some legends say that dhampirs have thin and brittle bones. Because of this, they do not live very long. Presumably,
these dhampirs do not take up vampire-hunting.
For a dhampir with this Flaw, bashing damage is treated as lethal damage.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
85
that — could persuade a Tremere to teach Thaumaturgy to
a vampire outside the clan.
Which is not to say that the thin-blooded can never learn
magic. They can read grimoires and practice occult rituals, just as
a mortal can. The innate magic of the Blood makes hedge magic
even easier for vampires than it is for mortals. An occult-minded
Caitiff or dhampir might learn hedge magic Paths (see World
of Darkness: Sorcerer) or invent their own quirky Disciplines
of magic. Learning such magic, however, follows the rules for
creating “personal” Disciplines (see below).
“UNIQUE” CLAN DISCIPLINES
Chimerstry, Serpentis, Vicissitude and other Disciplines as-
sociated with a single clan are virtually impossible to learn without
a tutor. Again, the clans that know these Disciplines seldom teach
them to others. It’s not impossible — no clan is truly a monolith —
and for that matter, these clans might sire Caitiff themselves, who
carry the Discipline in the Blood. In general, though, a Caitiff would
need a mentor to teach them an exotic Discipline. Such mentors
are very rare, and they generally demand favors in return.
PERSONAL DISCIPLINES
Nevertheless, the Last Generations (Caitiff and otherwise)
have one source of Disciplines denied to all other vampires: them-
selves. For all other vampires, creating a truly new Discipline is a
labor of centuries. Even most Methuselahs can’t do it — only the
rare few who found new bloodlines. The thin-blooded, however,
can create a Discipline in mere decades — in just a few years,
if they really work at it. Not every thin-blooded invents a new
Discipline, but it is something they can do.
Dhampirs cannot create new Disciplines. They can,
however, learn “unique” Disciplines created by the thin-
blooded, if they can find a teacher.
CHARACTER
ARCHETYPES
Unlike the vampire clans, thin-blooded archetypes aren’t
defined by Blood (the dhampir forms an important exception).
Many thin-blooded vampires don’t know whether they tech-
nically belong to a clan or not, nor do many of them care. A
thin-blooded Ventrue probably has more in common with a
Caitiff than with her own grandsire. The thin-blooded are better
defined by their social roles — some chosen, some thrust upon
them by their special abilities. Most archetypes can overlap.
The highest generations have no monopoly on these arche-
types. Vampires do not magically know each other’s generation on
sight. A 13th-generation vampire can be just as much an outcast
from clans and sects as any 15th-generation Caitiff. In such cases,
purely social archetypes such as wannabe or autarkis may well
describe the character better than some arbitrary clan. Conversely,
a legitimately sired, properly trained 14th-generation vampire
should probably be built around a clan archetype instead.
THIN-BLOODED SUMMARY
Can the character…
14th 15th Dhampir
Belong to a clan?
Half the time Never; always Caitiff Mortal; no
clan
Sire Kindred?
Yes, unless character No No
has Thin Blood Flaw
Conceive/carry a mortal child?
No Yes, sometimes Yes
Create ghouls?
Yes No No
Create blood bonds?
Yes, sometimes No No
Eat food/drink?
No Yes, but must vomit Yes
thereafter (other vampires
vomit at once)
Walk in sunlight?
No Suffers only lethal Yes
damage, can soak
Create Disciplines?
Yes Yes No
Achieve max Discipline level?
No; 4, tops No; 3, tops No; 1, tops
Have Insight?
Yes Yes No
AUTARKIS
Some vampires, choosing to exist as complete loners, opt out
of sects, clans and even coteries. The Kindred call such vampires
autarkis. Many Last Generation vampires take this path.
Some vampires become autarkis out of disgust. They
see that both the Sabbat and Camarilla are hives of twisted,
ruthless intrigue. Not wanting to be anyone’s pawn, they go
forth on their own.
Other vampires dwell alone because they don’t want
competition. In a big city, such as Chicago or London, even a
200-year-old ancilla might be a comparative youngster who must
bow and scrape before much older, stronger vampires. In Piscat-
away or Tukwila, though, a vampire can be a law unto herself.
With a few Disciplines, the blood bond and some patience, such
a “Caitiff prince” can exert a shocking degree of influence over
a small community. For all practical purposes, the entire town
becomes her herd. Okay, so she’s screwed if a pack of Lupines
comes to town. Some vampires think it’s worth the risk.
Some vampires don’t know about the Camarilla, Sab-
bat or anarchs. Their sires never told them. They’re in for
a surprise.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
86
STEREOTYPES:
Camarilla: They defy the prince and endanger the Masquerade.
They must die.
First you have to catch me, you old fossils.
Sabbat: Selfish cowards. We have the true freedom that comes
from purpose and a loyal brother to guard your back.
Cult Zombie Alert! Damn, at least the Camarilla is honest
about ordering you around.
Anarchs: Like, we know where you’re coming from, man.
We’re all rebelling too!
I didn’t quit the big gangs just to join a little one. Fuck off!
And some vampires are just scared. They know that the
world holds terrible forces that could destroy them in a blink,
and they’re hiding.
Autarkis vampires make suitable characters. The player must
decide why the character turned autarkis. Then she has to come
up with a reason why an autarkis would involve himself with other
vampires, despite his previous choice of solitude (a character who
responds to every situation by saying, “It’s not my problem” and
walking away simply doesn’t work well for a chronicle).
At first, an autarkis character probably follows purely per-
sonal motivations. A friendship or kinship from mortal days, an
obligation brought about by a personal code of honor, or a nar-
row, shared interest in a specific project can supply a beginning.
An autarkis might even work as a mercenary for whomever will
pay — Camarilla, Sabbat, anarch or other. In time, however,
an autarkis character might develop a deeper commitment to a
coterie or some broader goal.
Roles: Autarkis vampires have explicitly rejected all politi-
cal alliances. Other characters won’t know how much to trust an
autarkis. Then again, how much should they trust each other?
Autarkis may well challenge other characters to examine their
loyalties and entanglements with their sects or clans. Conversely,
an autarkis might eventually ask herself why she’s so dead-set on
staying alone. Loyalty and independence are major themes for
autarkis characters.
Character Creation: Autarkis come in every clan, with any
conceivable traits. All one can say is that autarkis are never fools:
A stupid autarkis doesn’t survive very long.
Note that on his home ground, a “Caitiff prince” autarkis
might have frighteningly high levels of Contacts, Allies, Retain-
ers and other mortal connections, making him a more dangerous
opponent than his Blood might indicate. Think of the classic
horror-story isolated village, where everyone in town knows the
terrible secret — or is part of it. Now recall what happens to visitors
who pry too deeply. Such an autarkis makes a worthy adversary
for a coterie, or a valuable ally.
Weaknesses: An autarkis vampire’s lot is not an easy one.
The flip side of being obliged to no one is that no one helps you
when you are in trouble. Camarilla princes don’t like any vampire
outside their control. The Sabbat, for all its talk of freedom, tends
to “recruit” autarkis with a whack on the head and improvised
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
87
of the world: They have their hands full trying to hold down a
job and keep a family together. Their triumphs and tragedies are
small, but very personal.
Sooner or later, though, a Cleaver can no longer avoid other
vampires’ conflicts. They can’t hide from the World of Darkness
forever, no matter how they try. The snare may be as melodramatic
as the Sabbat breaking down the door or as homely as begging a
favor from a primogen.
A Cleaver may well be the only vampire who speaks and acts
on behalf of humanity. Supernatural power struggles tend to spiral
in on themselves and lose touch with mundane issues… this is true
of players as well as characters. Part of a Cleaver’s role is to bring the
chronicle back to Earth from the rarefied heights of supernatural
intrigue. They remind the other characters that vampires’ little
wars have consequences for ordinary people, too.
Character Creation: Cleavers need a high Self-Control. They
really can’t afford to frenzy. A high Humanity and Willpower are
good ideas as well (this assumes that the vampire tries to have
a real, functional family, not a ghastly parody based on terror,
codependency and the blood bond). Communications abilities
such as Subterfuge and Etiquette are useful for explaining away
odd behavior to coworkers and neighbors.
Weaknesses: A Cleavers’ greatest weaknesses are her family
and all the mortals with whom she associates. Other vampires can
threaten a Cleaver’s parents, siblings, lovers, children and friends
(this tactic may backfire if the Cleaver has a coterie of Kindred
friends… a good reason to join a coterie). On a deeper level,
a Cleaver holds her own humanity hostage. One frenzy at the
wrong time, and he could kill everyone he holds dear. Cleavers
set themselves up for heartbreak.
In game terms, family members are represented by the Ward
Flaw. No matter how many mortals get involved with the vampire,
the character can take the Flaw only once.
Quote: I don’t care if you’re the prince of Wales, you leave my
daughter alone!
UNBOUND
Some vampires reject ties of Blood. Even if they know
their clan lineage, they don’t care. When they look at
the clans (Camarilla, Sabbat or independent), they see
tyranny masquerading as tradition. They don’t want some
moldy elder telling them what they can and cannot do,
either with their unlives or their vitae. Clan Disciplines?
Hogwash! The self-described “Unbound” insist that any
vampire can learn any Discipline. Nor do they believe in
clan weaknesses. The high-and-mighty clan elders have only
deluded their descendants into copying their own neurotic
limitations. (They accept the Nosferatu as an exception.
Many Unbound, however, deem it politically incorrect to
call Nosferatu deformities a “weakness.”) Why should Caitiff
feel shame at their lack of a clan? They should be glad they
escaped the brainwashing.
The Unbound irritate older vampires with their strident
rejection of clan, sect and respect for elders — the foundations of
Creation Rites. Even anarchs may resent a vampire who displays no
apparent loyalties. An autarkis has no Status, no Clan Prestige and,
very probably, no alliances of any kind with other vampires.
Quote: Damn you all to the Sun! I stand for myself!
CLEAVERS
Some new vampires try especially hard to maintain a human
existence. They don’t want just to maintain an illusion of normality
to preserve the Masquerade (if they know about the Masquerade
at all); they want to keep, as much as possible, everything they
had as mortals. They want to have a regular job, friends… even
a family. Especially a family. They don’t believe themselves to be
monsters. In a time when so many diverse lifestyles and medical
conditions find at least marginal tolerance, is a sunlight problem
and a liquid protein diet really so inhuman?
Other young vampires contemptuously call such vampires
“Cleavers” — as in Ward, June and the Beaver. Older vampires shake
their heads and quote Caine’s warning in The Book of Nod: “Do not
embrace love.” As if the Damned could really have a suburban home
with a picket fence, a car in the garage and 2.3 children!
Cleavers are willing to try.
Such “families” can vary a bit. A new vampire who was
Embraced after marriage and children might not want to abandon
her family. A vampire might even set up a household after the
Embrace. It’s too late to have children the normal way, but they
can adopt or use a sperm donor. If the vampire is 15th-generation,
she might be surprised to learn she can have a child the normal
way. Then again, some thin-blooded vampires are so pitifully
ignorant that they don’t know what’s impossible. Two vampires
might marry as a perpetual “Double Income, No Kids” unit. Then
again, a vampire might just try to stay in close contact with her
mortal parents, siblings and friends, even to the extent of letting
them in on the secret.
Cleavers can be of any clan. Really, they can be of any gen-
eration, too — but Cleavers usually have not been vampires very
long. They probably have no connection to the sects of their sires,
or they have renounced such connections. A decently trained
childe would never try anything so risky and foolish.
Roles: Cleavers provide a stark contrast to the epic menaces
of the Jyhad and Gehenna. Let someone else worry about the fate
STEREOTYPES:
Camarilla: Oh, the follies of youth. They endanger the
Masquerade, no matter how hard they try to uphold it.
Listen, buddy, I pay taxes, and I’ve got rights. Tell your precious
“prince” that this is the U.S. of A., not the fucking Middle Ages!
Sabbat: [retching noise]
Why hasn’t someone thrown these thugs in jail? The
neighborhood’s not safe with them around!
Anarchs: Cowards afraid to take a stand.
Didn’t we get enough rebellion in the ’60s? Grow up, kid,
and take a look at the real world.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
88
Camarilla society. Unlike the stereotypical anarch, the Unbound
are not ignorant “rebels without a cause.” No crude gang-banging
for them! They have ideologies and plans for reform. Some Un-
bound preach their doctrines with missionary zeal. Others work
quietly to build new vampire societies.
The Unbound are no more a unified “movement,” however,
than is the Camarilla. Although a few charismatic leaders have
emerged, the Unbound have no party line beyond their rejection
of tradition and desire for change. They can and do disagree bit-
terly about what sort of change is needed.
Dwelling on the fringe of Kindred society, the Unbound see
things that other vampires miss. The Kindred aren’t the only creatures
to walk the night. Daring to attempt the forbidden, an Unbound
might actually seek contacts with wizards and werewolves, ghosts and
fairies… and mortals. They keep the Masquerade — for now — but
surely they can make an exception for Uncle Henry, who’s so broad-
minded? Or old Pastor Smith, who advised them in so many other
times of trouble? And if you can’t trust your mother, well, who can
you trust? Quite often, moving beyond the sphere of Kindred society
results in an Unbound’s Final Death. Once in a while, though, an
Unbound makes connections that would boggle the minds of most
elder vampires. If the Unbound ever organize the anarchs to strike
back at their oppressors, they will not stand alone.
Most anarchs still regard the Unbound as impractical dream-
ers. Now that the self-proclaimed “anarch states” are under attack
by the mysterious and powerful Cathayan vampires, however,
some anarchs wonder if interracial diplomacy might not be worth
a shot. The Camarilla certainly shows little interest in helping to
resist the Asian invaders.
Only recently have many elders felt enough pique to try
exterminating the Unbound. This change of attitude comes partly
from the general climate of fear and partly from a suspicion that
the Unbound might be right. Vampires invest centuries of ego
in their beliefs: the suggestion that they spent those centuries
upholding a lie comes as a bitter draft indeed. In their furious
rejection of Unbound “heresy,” the Kindred prove that they
remain all too human.
Role: These activists deliberately challenge the status quo of
vampiric society. They often do things precisely because centuries
of tradition say they can’t or shouldn’t. Some Unbound characters
become explorers, seeking the truth behind legend and tradition;
others play diplomat, trying to gather vampires into new social
arrangements. Every Unbound character should have a special
dream or program she pursues.
Character Creation: The Unbound have nothing in com-
mon except their attitude toward “traditional” restrictions. If
not an inceptor herself, however, an Unbound may well try to
learn bizarre new Disciplines just to prove that she can. Unbound
tend to have restless, discontented Natures such as Architect,
Curmudgeon, Visionary or even Thrill-Seeker.
Weaknesses: Their special interests do not impose any
particular weakness upon the Unbound. They put themselves in
enough trouble already.
Quote: Do you drive a horse and buggy? Do you write with a goose-
quill pen? Then why do you follow rules set forth 500 years ago?
WANNABE
Some thin-blooded vampires try to find a place within
Camarilla societies. Perhaps they know their clan ancestry;
perhaps they don’t, but want to join a clan anyway because
they like the clan’s culture and ideals (or at least what they
imagine about its culture, which may not match the truth
very well). For instance, an ambitious Caitiff (or Malkavian,
Gangrel, Brujah…) might innocently petition the local
Ventrue Primogen to join the “club.”
Such a “wannabe” usually finds himself disappointed.
Even if he can prove a clan ancestry, his own clan elders
often despise him as an embarrassment (few people, living or
undead, like to discover a bastard in the family). Most vam-
pires in the Camarilla regard the thin-blooded as nothing but
competition for hunting territory — certainly they are no use
as allies. No matter what Last Generation vampires do, they
cannot expect more than grudging tolerance from the princes
of the Camarilla.
Nor does the Sabbat treat them any better. The Sabbat
values power above all in its members. Both childer and
recruits must prove their strength — and for all the Sab-
bat’s prating of loyalty, few Sabbat lift a finger to help a new
member survive. To the Sabbat, the thin-blooded will always
be handicapped. If a vampire of the Last Generations can
diablerize his way to a lower and stronger generation, fine;
he’s proved his worthiness to survive. If not? The Sabbat does
not mourn the Final Death of the weak.
Whether their goal is the Camarilla or the Sabbat, wan-
nabes face daunting obstacles. The Camarilla obsesses about
age, generation and legitimacy of siring. The Sabbat obsesses
about raw power. The thin-blooded have none of these. A
wannabe must work harder than any other neonate to gain
equal recognition, with no rights at all. What’s worse, some
vampires will resent any success the character achieves. Sup-
pose a young Caitiff can prove that he’s as good a leader as
any Ventrue, as good an artist as any Toreador or (God help
the world) as good an… experimenter… as any Tzimisce.
STEREOTYPES:
Camarilla: Fools and madmen! Do they want to bring the Inquisition
down upon us all?
Tired old vampires playing tired old games. Why do they even
bother waking up at night? Some of the Brujah understand, though.
Sabbat: Join us! What you seek — we’ve done it!
They traded oppression by elders for slavery to each other.
Anarchs: They take foolish risks for impossible dreams.
They have the right attitude, just no sense or direction. That’s
where I come in.
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
89
Young clan members resent being shown up by an outsider.
Older clan members resent the challenge to the established
prejudices of generation and bloodline.
The independent clans have their own insular prejudices,
and they are highly selective in who they Embrace. Yet, the
Assamites, Followers of Set and Giovanni also place high
value on their ideologies. An outsider who shows exceptional
ability and devotion to the clan’s goals might win cautious
acceptance as an associate, if not an actual clan member. As
yet, however, few thin-blooded vampires have even heard
of these small, often reclusive, clans. That could change in
the future.
The most daring wannabes, however, avoid all the
obstacles to clan membership by a simple stratagem: They
lie. A vampire can concoct a false lineage to make herself
seem more respectable, move to a new city and present
herself to the prince. Vampires have attempted such frauds
for centuries; older vampires call such a liar a rastacouere.
The pogroms against the thin-blooded have caused a sharp
upturn in rastacouerage. A rastacouere, however, faces an
almost certain Blood Hunt if the city’s elders discover her
imposture. If there’s one thing elder vampires hate, it is being
made to look foolish.
Role: Wannabes are the outsiders looking in, noses
pressed against the glass. A wannabe must have at least
some reason to believe she might gain acceptance in a clan
or sect — even though she might be utterly deluded. Such a
character can provide a new viewpoint on a sect or clan as
she tries to learn its ways and win acceptance.
Character Creation: Wannabes often follow a clan con-
cept, at least in a diluted way. A 14th-generation would-be
Ventrue, for instance, might show leadership and financial
ability — but as leader of a street gang or manager of a small
business. Thus, clan archetypes may guide character creation
— with no reference at all to the character’s actual bloodline,
clan weakness or favored Disciplines.
Weaknesses: A wannabe has whatever intrinsic weak-
ness his bloodline imposes. He also has no Status at all. If a
wannabe ever wins that first dot of Status by becoming an
accepted (if lowly) member of the Camarilla or Sabbat, he
is no longer a wannabe. Instead, he is a sect member who
merely happens to have high generation and is treated like
any other neonate.
Quote: Judge me by my deeds, not by my blood.
INCEPTORS
In the Old Form, vampires who invent a new Discipline
are called inceptors. Most vampires never manage this. Even
the Antediluvians can’t do it at will: No Ancient ever created
more than one original Discipline… and even those instances
are legend, not history. Once every few centuries, however,
a new vampire might spontaneously generate a new Disci-
pline — typically a sign that the vampire has founded a new
bloodline. For thin-blooded plebes to create new Disciplines,
therefore, comes as a bit of a shock to the elders.
The Last Generations themselves often have no idea that
they’re doing something special. Many of them get their ideas
about what vampires can do from books and movies, instead
of from their sires. Sometimes they try to do something they
saw in a movie, and it works. Maybe it matches one of the
traditional Disciplines… or maybe it’s something new.
Personal Disciplines may also grow from the new vampire’s
talents and interests. Many of the “standard” Disciplines are magical
enhancements of mundane abilities. Presence and Dominate, for
instance, magnify social skills at evoking obedience, fear, admira-
tion or conviction. The Blood might magnify a Last Generation
childe’s other knacks or interests into a Discipline.
When designing an inceptor, one must consider whether
the character knows he has done something special. A real naïf
might not realize that not every vampire can fly (or dowse for
lost objects, or cause bad luck, or whatever). If the character
does understand that he’s done something special, does he
brag and flaunt his power? Does he hide his Discipline in the
fear that he’ll be condemned as a freak?
On the Storyteller’s side, how do other Kindred react? Not
many vampires in the know can simply ignore an inceptor,
at least not if the new Discipline looks useful. An interest-
ing Discipline, and how the character decides to use it, can
become the start of many fine stories.
Roles: These vampires have what other vampires want:
power. It’s not very much power, because of the inceptors’
youth, generation and thin blood, but it’s a power no one
else has. Inceptors have nothing else in common; they have
aspirations and personalities as diverse as mortals. Whether
an inceptor likes it or not, though, her anomalous abilities
bring her to the attention of more powerful vampires.
Other vampires may try to recruit inceptors as teachers
or (more likely) minions. Less patient vampires might try to
diablerize an inceptor (many Cainites believe that diablerie
consumes the very soul of the victim, and thereby also trans-
fers an aptitude for the victim’s Disciplines). The inventor
of a new Discipline doesn’t just become a player in the local
Jyhads — he becomes the prize.
STEREOTYPES
Camarilla: Odious creatures. Sometimes almost as useful as ghouls,
though. Almost.
You gotta follow the rules if you wanna win the prize — but I
tell ya, if these mugs weren’t the only game in town….
Sabbat: Weaklings. Dogs begging for scraps from their masters’ tables.
’Sfunny, I thought they said they wanted equal rights for all
vampires despite age and generation. I guess they still think some
generations are “more equal” than others.
Anarchs: Get an unlife, willya? The moldy oldies will never give
you a fair shake.
And you’re doing so well?
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
90
Character Creation: Inceptors come from every clan. Caitiff
might be more likely to create Disciplines just because they don’t
know any better!
Players have two choices in designing an inceptor. They can
create a character based on some other archetype (or no archetype
at all), then give the character a Discipline power that any vampire
might find useful. Alternatively, they can start with an intriguing
Discipline and build the character around that.
Ideally, of course, “Character comes first,” rather than powers.
If an inceptor’s new Discipline is consistent with the character’s
history, personality and aptitudes, though, it’s a good character.
The order of the design process doesn’t matter, only that the result-
ing character have an interesting, three-dimensional personality
and motivations.
Weaknesses: These vampires have no special, intrinsic
weaknesses except for their generation and thin blood.
Quote: Oh, Christ, man, I’m sorry! I didn’t know I could do
that!
SEERS
These vampires have the new Background of Insight. Seers
may come from almost any walk of life or undeath. They come
from every clan, and from the clanless. Through no choice of
their own, however, they channel a preternatural knowledge
about the doings of other vampires. Because of this, every seer
faces two challenges. The greater their Insight, the more sharply
they face its demands and perils.
First, how does the seer react to her hunches and visions?
No matter how she feels about her Insight, she can’t ignore it —
even if she tries. Do the dreamlike revelations frighten the seer?
Is the knowledge a blessing, a curse, or just an incomprehensible
intrusion? Does Insight come from God, the Devil or some other
transcendent power? Every seer must find her own answers to
these questions.
A seer might have complex, mixed emotions about her power.
One seer might fear her visions, but strive to have them because
she believes they are warnings from God that she feels duty-bound
to pass on. Another seer might delight in the knowledge she has
about more powerful vampires, but try to hide his knowledge for
fear of retribution. A third seer might think her hunches come
from the Devil, but matter-of-factly accept them because she is
one of the Damned, after all.
The second challenge comes from other vampires. Knowledge
is power in Cainite society — especially knowledge of what others
are doing. Prince or primogen, bishop or archon, most influential
vampires fear the plots of their elders, rivals and juniors alike.
They fear exposure of their own intrigues just as much. If a seer’s
power becomes known, he becomes the focus of both hope and
fear. How a seer chooses to use his “gift” decides what role he plays
in local Kindred culture: A Cainite detective who can plausibly
explain away his “hunches” will be treated very differently than
a “Caitiff prophet” spreading proclamations of doom.
Seers often experience a lengthy hiatus between receiving
the Embrace and awakening as one of the undead. The Storyteller
can make the character’s death-dreams an important part of her
prelude. Of course, the Storyteller shouldn’t give any information
of genuine importance… but obscure and nightmarish images
can establish that something bad is brewing, and that the seer is
somehow tied to it all.
Role: A seer’s role is to know too much. They are walking story
hooks, spreading both awe and panic wherever they go. Among the
Kindred, preserving the status quo depends on everyone keeping her
secrets. Schemes that took decades of planning can fall apart in minutes
when a seer can’t stop herself from saying who wants to do what to
whom. This tends to upset everyone terribly. The resulting scramble
often includes attempts by vampires who fear exposure to destroy the
offending seer. Players had better enjoy having a character who gets
chased, captured, courted, threatened and manipulated a lot.
Character Creation: Of course, a seer character has the Insight
background, and probably at high levels (the more information
the character receives, the more trouble — er, drama — he can
cause). For the rest, anything goes: Seers can have any sort of
Attributes or Abilities. Supernatural Merits such as Medium or
Oracle might be appropriate since they overlap somewhat with
Insight. Giving a seer a personal Discipline as well, however,
would make the character far too “gimmicky.”
Weaknesses: Aside from whatever weaknesses they might
have from their clan or generation, seers are more prone to Super-
natural Flaws (such as Cursed or Haunted) than other vampires.
No such Flaws are mandatory, though — and remember that
“more prone” is very much a relative term. Such Flaws should
never actually be common within a campaign; their rarity makes
them more dramatic.
Quote: Please, sir, I can help you! I… know things.
DHAMPIR
A dhampir is a thing the Cainites believed could never hap-
pen: the offspring of a mortal and a vampire. Camarilla and Sabbat,
elder and neonate, they all knew that their true blood ties came by
adoption, through the Embrace. They knew that life never comes
from the undead. Vampires have childer, not children.
But then, they never had 15th-generation vampires
before, either.
STEREOTYPES:
Camarilla: We must watch them. Control them. And if necessary,
destroy them to keep them out of our enemies’ hands.
Don’t trust them. They’ll use you, break you and throw you
away.
Sabbat: They have broken the limits set by our accursed ancestors,
but are too weak to exploit their gifts. We, however, are strong….
Don’t trust them, either. They don’t want to use you — they
want to eat you.
Anarchs: Those old Cammie farts had better watch out! Now we
have powers they cannot imagine!
Whoa, cowboy! When did I volunteer for your war?
CHAPTER THREE: A STAIN ON THE SOUL
91
Vampires can’t have sex — not really. They only go through
the motions, usually as a ploy to take blood while their partner is
distracted by passion. Only the taste of blood gives Kindred pleasure.
A male vampire does not produce sperm, and a female vampire
does not receive it… except in the 15th Generation.
These vampires still get no great pleasure from sex, but
sometimes the reflexes of life kick in and the reproductive system
starts working again. A male vampire might ejaculate — and his
seed will be fertile. His surprise, however, is as nothing compared
to the female vampire who learns that her mortal, male lover has
gotten her pregnant.
In the Last Generation of Caine, therefore, the curse has
taken a final, ironic twist. The weakest of the vampires have a
power denied to even the mightiest of their race — the power
to create a new life.
Even under the best conditions, such pregnancies only have
a 50 percent chance of carrying to term. Half the time, the fetus
miscarries and dies. Surviving children are a mixture of mortal and
vampiric traits: a dhampir. Like a vampire, they convert blood into
vitae. Like a mortal, however, they make their own blood. They
have Disciplines, although a dhampir cannot normally master
them beyond the first level. They can have mortal children of
their own; sunlight does not harm them. Although they have a
Beast that can drive them to frenzy, their difficulty numbers to
resist frenzy are always two less than they would be for a vampire
in the same situation.
Similar creatures already exist in the World of Darkness.
When ghouls have children who are themselves ghouled from
the womb, after a few generations the power of vitae becomes
fixed in their blood. Such “revenants,” however, are confined to
a few freakish families — all of them thoroughly dominated by
vampires (chiefly the Tzimisce clan). Elder vampires could ignore
them, and have done so for centuries. Few in the Camarilla have
even heard of revenants.
Most revenants grow up surrounded by vampires, ghouls
and other revenants. They barely know the mundane world ex-
ists. Dhampirs, on the other hand, usually grow up in relatively
normal surroundings, in the company of mortals. Quite possibly,
the dhampir knows nothing of the secret World of Darkness. But
she’ll find out….
Few things could surprise an elder more, by its mere existence,
than a dhampir. The withered tree of Caine has borne living fruit.
Is it a sign from God? Will dhampirs develop abilities no one can
guess, like their thin-blooded parents? Will they breed true and
spread vampiric powers throughout the mortal populace? The
World of Darkness will never be the same.
Role: To the Kindred, dhampirs are the ultimate x-factor.
Millennia of Kindred tradition says that such creatures could not
exist. Dhampirs are still so rare that most vampires have never
heard of them, unless one actually shows up in the neighborhood.
Even then, the vampires might take a long time to recognize the
dhampir for what it is. At first, they may well mistake it for a
masterless ghoul. Thus, dhampirs have no stereotyped role among
the clans and sects.
One can easily predict some common reactions to dhampirs,
though. Some vampires will hate and fear them, as they might hate
and fear any new thing. (This reaction seems especially plausible for
Sabbat vampires. A dhampir challenges their belief in their absolute
separation from humanity.) Other vampires might react with awe,
perhaps seeing a dhampir as a sign of God’s forgiveness: The dead
have given birth; the child has the powers of the Damned without
their weaknesses (or so it might seem upon casual inspection).
No doubt, many Kindred will insist that any dhampir is a fraud,
just a ghoul with a hidden domitor, or some elaborate Malkavian
deception. No doubt, others will completely miss the strangeness,
and simply ponder how to exploit this new resource.
Character Creation: The only hard-and-fast rule to keep in
mind when creating a dhampir is that they are all young. Fifteenth-
generation vampires have existed only for about 20 years. Any
dhampir character will be one of the very first of her kind. For all
any dhampir character knows, she is the first and only one of her
kind. Dhampirs vary as much as mortal teenagers.
Weaknesses: Unlike ghouls or revenants, dhampirs have no
favored clan Disciplines that are especially easy to learn.
Quote: Who are you? WHAT are you? Leave me ALONE!
[CRASH!]
STEREOTYPES
Camarilla: Capture a seer, lock him in your deepest dungeon,
listen to his words and let no one else know he exists. Otherwise,
destroy him!
It’s a maze that goes on forever. And, oh God, in the center
of the maze….
Sabbat: How can we believe they know aught of the Ancients when
they keep saying we are still their pawns? The Sabbat serves no one!
Loyalty? Freedom? Loyalty? Then why do I see your sworn
brother’s blood upon your lips?
Anarchs: Babbling lunatics! Ignore them.
Don’t you know? You’re puppets too.
STEREOTYPES
Camarilla: I don’t care how you do it, bring that freak to me.
I’ll wring the truth out of him.
Whatever you do, don’t be noticed. The Camaluna owns
everything and everybody, and if it notices you, you’re dead.
Sabbat: Impossible! You’re lying! It’s bullshit and I’ll cave in
your fucking head for it!
A Manson Family of psycho cultist vampires… oh god,
it just gets worse and worse.
Anarchs: Oh, this is rich. So much for the “all-knowing
elders,” eh?
So what do you want from me?
CHAPTER FOUR: WRITTEN IN RED
93
A chronicle set in the Final Nights is a considerable under-
taking. Players, as much as characters, have been anticipating
Gehenna ever since their first introduction to the World of
Darkness. This is the defining moment for the Kindred, a rare and
exciting opportunity to rise above petty squabbles over territory or
prestige and truly affect the course of things — for good or evil. In
times of apocalypse, no one can know who or what the deciding
factor will be. The most trifling, innocent deeds can set portentous
events in motion. At stake is the fate of every sentient creature
on Earth: not just the vampires themselves, but the mortals and
other supernaturals as well.
Your player who’s been writing her own Book of Nod chapters
and your player who feverishly combs the game stores to collect
out-of-print supplements in the hope of “putting it all together”
are going to be expecting fireworks.
But never fear — help is here if you need it. This chapter
provides information and suggestions for Storytellers who wish
to run chronicles set in the Time of Thin Blood.
THEME
The following themes are provided for inspiration. The first
two are especially appropriate to chronicles with thin-flooded
characters; the others, however, apply to any chronicle set on
the eve of Gehenna.
• Ignorance: This, even more than the lack of Blood-
strength, is the dominant obstacle for thin-blooded vampires.
Almost without exception, they are young and untutored. For
other, more privileged Kindred, the time immediately after the
Embrace is frightening, but navigable; they have lessons to learn,
skills to acquire, allies and enemies to identify. It is not necessary
to like one’s sire, or the stifling strictures of vampire society, to
benefit from the support.
Many thin-blooded, however, know of no other Kindred
apart from themselves and perhaps their sires (at least not to begin
with; of course, it would be a strange chronicle indeed that didn’t
bring in other vampires eventually). They have no notions of Beast
versus Humanity. No one ever tells them that an individual kine
life is too brief to worry about, or that mortal love can lead only
to tragedy. They have little choice but to make the mistakes and
try to survive them long enough to do better.
Even if they gain the opportunity to associate with other
vampires, the fledglings might not find the answers they seek. The
rivalries and betrayals of Kindred politics are barely comprehensible
even to its old hands, and thin-blooded quickly learn that no one
tells them the truth — except when it’s convenient. Moreover,
once thin-blooded have made contact with Kindred society, it
can be difficult for them to extricate themselves at will. Drawn
to innocence like sharks to blood, the Kindred come to them,
offering, threatening, wheedling. Naturally, thin-blooded with
special abilities are doubly enticing to these deceivers.
In a thin-blooded chronicle, it is especially important to
observe faithfully the distinction between player and character
knowledge. Even a brand-new Vampire character, under the
CHAPTER FOUR:
WRITTEN IN RED
Let them enjoy the gentle music of the Kindred…
— “The Chronicle of Shadows,” The Book of Nod
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
94
standard rules, is assumed to have anywhere from several years
to a few decades of experience as a vampire under her belt. Most
thin-blooded, however, are newly Embraced. Dhampir characters,
being the children of thin-blooded, also tend to be very young —
teenagers or children. Their naïveté is oppressive, even paralyzing,
but it also provides a unique roleplaying opportunity. Of all the
Damned, the highest generations are, without question, the ones
closest to humankind, as well as to their own Humanity.
• Freedom: This is the corollary to Ignorance. Although it’s
a handicap to be so unaware, it can also be liberating. The thin-
blooded throw away the old rules with rare panache. They are free
to explore even the wildest solutions to the problem of vampirism.
They can turn up on the doorstep of the Mayo Clinic. They can sue
for protected status under civil rights law. They might suffer for their
indiscretions, but they can also make unexpected allies and discover
novel strategies for fending off their hidebound progenitors.
This freedom is more threatening to the rest of Kindred society
than most thin-blooded can even imagine. The Camarilla elders
envision the destruction of the ordered society they have struggled
for so many centuries to build. The Sabbat worry that if the thin-
blooded are allowed to move unchecked, they will inevitably
draw the notice of the Antediluvians and set off the Gehenna
time bomb before the sect is ready. Both groups frequently target
even those thin-blooded who are simply trying to mind their own
business. It’s not always easy to be free.
Still, players should enjoy the chance to turn the conventional
wisdom of the Damned on its ear. Thin-blooded vampires of dis-
tinct clans, for example, usually have no inkling of their cultural
heritage and often end up unintentionally defying it. Imagine a
coterie in which the Brujah collects Japanese tea sets, and the
Toreador picks fights at biker bars (meanwhile, the Nosferatu,
having devised a set of beautifully painted masks, is making his
comeback as an operatic tenor). The highest generations belong
to the vampiric demimonde. Disinherited already, they have no
one to please but themselves.
• Chaos: For all their endless speculation, most Kindred only
have the vaguest understanding of Gehenna. All they “know” is
that it now looms dangerously close. Many profound changes are
taking place in the World of Darkness. Is a sinister pattern to be
discerned within them, or are they meaningless symptoms of the
general confusion? Those who believe that the Ancients have
already begun the gradual ascent to consciousness claim good
reason to blame every twist and turn of modern Cainite politics
on their subtle mental nudging. And what will happen as the
Antediluvians become aware enough to act for themselves?
Psychologists among the Kindred have a more scientific
interpretation for the widespread unraveling of clan and sect,
truce and treaty. Despite their utter lack of biology per se, Kindred
may still possess a kind of evolutionary programming, closely
tied to their vampiric Beast nature; it is this programming that
responds to the growing signs of the Gehenna cycle drawing to
its close. Sensing that the time has come to fight or perish in the
ultimate Darwinian contest, the Kindred fall upon each other
with more violence than ever, abandoning all their careful
constructions and plunging into mayhem that seems
completely counterproductive to the observer —
and even to the participants. Nevertheless,
it is an entirely predictable stage in the
development of the species.
Such rationalist theories have
gained little ground to date. The
Cainites, as a race, are extremely
susceptible to delusion. Paranoid
by nature, they find no theory
too baroque or improbable to
consider. Now, they look
around themselves, see the
disintegration of every-
thing they relied on and
CHAPTER FOUR: WRITTEN IN RED
95
According to the most paranoid theories, they desire nothing less
than the eventual overthrow of the social order; thus, they must
be suppressed for the safety of all true Kindred.
So long as they can make themselves useful, some thin-
blooded may succeed in being exploited rather than destroyed
outright. But no matter what they do, eventually the time of
purges will come. The treatment of the Jews and the Gypsies by
various nations over the centuries is perhaps the most archetypal
real-world example of this phenomenon.
MOOD
Face it: There’s little reason to tell a story about the end
times unless you can make the players really feel it, really place
themselves in the apocalyptic mindset. Mood is one of the keys to
creating that mindset. Pay careful attention not just to the events
you introduce, but the way you introduce them.
• Paranoia: This mood is the signature for any good apoca-
lypse. It also pairs reasonably well with the theme of Ignorance
above. For the thin-blooded, as for any vampire unfortunate enough
to be up and about in these perilous nights, what you don’t know
can be a deadly danger.
It’s been mentioned above, but bears repeating: Vampires
are naturally paranoid creatures. Betrayal is an integral part of
their culture. Most vampires are out of the decision loop when it
comes to Gehenna, and so their only alternative is to theorize and
conjecture. It should come as no surprise that the theories they
invent are as twisted and complex as their own devious minds.
The highest generations, too, have cause for paranoia. Many
of them, especially those who can still tolerate daylight and mortal
pastimes, consider themselves essentially human. They remain close
to the ordinary people they care about and the values they were taught
in life. From their viewpoint, even a 12th-generation neonate is a
menacing creature. Enemies such as the scourge constantly swoop
down on them for no discernible reason, exact punishment for some
mysterious offense, then disappear into the night again. Wherever
the thin-blooded step, it’s always on someone’s toes.
Paranoia can be absurd as well as frightening. Although
such a chronicle should be overwhelmingly dark in ambience, it
may also give rise to some profoundly grotesque moments. The
eavian whose prophetic advice the characters have been follow-
ing might suddenly reveal, in hushed tones, her secret theory that
the Antediluvians transmit their subliminal messages to vampires
through the left fang — and then run around savagely removing
the offending article from all present. A cult of vampires might
decide to take a whole apartment building hostage because one
of its members “saw” Caine in the lobby. But what constitutes an
insane belief, when the times themselves are insane? Characters
in an eve-of-Gehenna chronicle should eventually come to feel
that anything is possible.
• Angst: (You knew you couldn’t get away from it.) Perhaps
it wouldn’t be fair to say that the thin-blooded necessarily have
more angst than their stronger brethren, but they certainly have
a unique brand of it.
conceive a burning need to find the moral of their story. This is a
quintessentially human response as well — to ask “why,” even of
such mindless catastrophes as flood and war. However inventive
the kine may be, though, few could concoct the sorts of explana-
tions devised by frightened Kindred.
In such an atmosphere, demagogues flourish. The scourge is
only the most visible manifestation of the overwhelming impulse
to impose order upon the ungovernable. Cults and secret societies
of every description spring up like dark weeds to promise answers
and protection. Prophets and doomsayers ride the hysteria to
dizzy new heights. Religious manias are in vogue, and not only
among elders; the hitherto disaffected agnostics of the younger
generations also fall prey.
Thin-blooded, especially seers, often find themselves the
unwilling focus of all this hysteria. Eccentrics with occult agendas
supplicate them. Bloodthirsty radicals hunt them down. The
younglings may well begin to feel they are the only sane creatures
in a race of lunatics. The Storyteller should do nothing to allevi-
ate such beliefs.
Stories built around millennial panic tend to share a
few central elements. The great threat is often hinted at, but
never shown in more than shadowy outline. Red herrings pop
up constantly, and different, equally credible theories compete to
explain the given facts. The world seems to be populated by an
unusual number of psychotics, religious fanatics and obsessives.
Odd inconsistencies and strange coincidences abound, as though
the laws of nature and probability just aren’t being enforced as
rigidly as usual. If the Storyteller is deft at balancing chaos and
intrigue, the players’ characters reach a point where they have
no idea what’s going on, but know beyond a doubt that the fate of
the world depends upon their doing something. Eventually, they
will have to be let off the hook so that the chronicle can come
to a satisfying conclusion, but that dangling suspense is both the
chief fun and the chief frustration.
• Fanaticism: This theme could well be considered a
subcategory of Chaos. Nonetheless, optimists can take heart:
Whatever else the omens may have wrought, at least the Kindred
have shaken off their apathy and inertia in response. The voices
in the wilderness finally have an audience. It is a time for radical
causes and sweeping reforms.
Leaders of fanatic groups, generally fanatics themselves, often
harbor an unshakable belief in their own righteousness — as well
as that of their cause — and they soon seduce their followers into
the same outlook. In such a climate, tragic mistakes are inevitable;
but so are heroic deeds. Those who have yearned to see rhetoric
put into action may have their chance at long last.
• Scapegoating/witch-hunting: Because many Kindred feel
powerless against what truly threatens them — Gehenna and the
Antediluvians — they tend to take out their hostility on nearer,
easier targets. Older Cainites often treat vagrant populations,
especially the thin-blooded, in the same way that citizens of a
country treat its unwanted immigrants. The thin-blooded are seen
as ignorant, lawless and dangerously alien — a teeming, barbarian
horde, so to speak. Their mysterious powers are envied, but feared.
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The central dilemma of vampirism is balancing the horrifying,
instinctual Beast nature against the remaining human nature. For
the thin-blooded, in some respects, the struggle is a milder one.
They do not have to confront their monstrousness as immediately
and as keenly as others of the Blood do. Many of them can enjoy
human pleasures; those who cannot usually still retain close ties
to human society and blend in far more easily than those whose
attention must be divided between mortal and vampire culture.
Their supernatural powers are not as strong, and so are more eas-
ily overlooked by themselves and others. The game of denial is
fixed in their favor.
However, this can also be a terrible disadvantage. The closer
you remain to your mortal loved ones, the easier it is for them
to become caught up in the more bizarre and dangerous aspects
of your existence. The more openly you walk in human society,
the more likely it is that someone hostile will discover your little
secret — and he may understand its significance even better
than you do. Most importantly, the longer you can deny your
monstrousness, the more devastating it will be when it finally
escapes your control.
In other words, the special torture of the thin-blooded is,
ironically enough, to be closer to humanity than other vampires.
The Storyteller should try to lull the characters into complacency.
Imagine the situation of a 14th-generation Caitiff. For a while,
existence after his Embrace is surprisingly un-Hellish. He switches
to an evening shift at the restaurant (he can even still sample the
food). He brings his fiancée, his sister and, of course, Grandma
in on his secret. They’re nonplused, but supportive; the younger
women even offer themselves as blood donors (better he should
turn to loved ones than unwilling strangers to meet his needs,
after all). He has no idea why he was chosen for this weird afflic-
tion, but he knows he has potential he never imagined. Perhaps
he gets in a scrape now and then, but so far he’s always managed
to escape with his hide intact. He’s thinking of becoming a stage
magician.
The Storyteller lets him have all this for a while, then begins
little by little to take it away. A frenzy in Grandma’s house thankfully
doesn’t kill the old woman, but it scares her badly enough to confess
to the parish priest. The vampire’s sire shows up with the bad news
that her illicit Embrace has been discovered, and she can be forgiven
only if she destroys her own childe. As for the fiancée, well, she’s
always told him she wanted to have a baby eventually….
And if that’s not enough angst, consider the problems of
raising a dhampir child.
True, much of this same angst can be experienced by standard
Vampire characters, but they are often must make a quicker, and
therefore somewhat cleaner, break. Among the clans, many sires
insist that their childer put aside the trappings of mortality and
join Kindred society as soon as possible. Before long, they are
far too immersed in the game of survival to notice their old life
slipping away… at least, until it’s too late. Thin-blooded, being
largely orphans or outcasts’ progeny, suffer no such distractions
in their early years and are free to experience the whole agoniz-
ing process.
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• Horror: Much has been written on the subject of horror
in Vampire, but at the risk of belaboring it, a few words must be
added here. For the most part, horror greets the thin-blooded
in the familiar forms: Each has a Beast; the Beast sometimes
urges them into monstrous actions. They spend their existences
contending with the cruel irony of the conundrum, “A Beast I
am, lest a Beast I become.” The more Humanity they manage to
retain, the more appalled they must be when the underside of
their new nature surfaces.
If the personal horror is the same, however, the external horror
is another matter. Most Kindred find their elders comparatively
freakish, but to the thin-blooded, who tend to move in mortal
society more than immortal, all vampires are freakish. To be
hunted by a society of unabashed predators, many of whom pride
themselves on their alien moral stance, is a horrifying thing indeed.
Don’t pass up the opportunity to demonstrate this distinction to
the characters.
CONFLICTS
The Time of Thin Blood is a period of intense polarization.
None of the traditional Cainite groups can stem the growing
disunity in their ranks. Most of the standard Vampire conflicts
rage on with the same ferocity as always (sect versus sect, clan
versus clan, generation versus generation), but a few new ones
have arisen as well.
• Thin-blooded vs. “normal” Kindred: The thin-blooded
are perceived as dangerous deviants by others of their race. At
best, they are discriminated against, forced to dwell at the fringes
of society; at worst, they become the targets of the scourge and
other persecutors. The Storyteller can wring a surprising amount
of drama from their futile search for a home. Fleeing the Blood
Hunt in one city, they are probably grateful, at first, to find a more
accommodating prince elsewhere; their elation might well sour
once they discover his price. In return for legitimizing them, he
may demand that they become his spies, or worse yet, his cannon
fodder. They may be relegated to the poorest, outermost reaches of
his domain. Of course, protesting this treatment no doubt brings
the ax crashing down on them once more.…
• Thin-blooded vs. other vagrants: No one knows better
than the anarchs, autarkis and Caitiff what it is to be outcast.
Nonetheless, they frequently turn away from their weak childer.
Disgusted at their failure and fearful of the scourge’s wrath, they
reject the thin-blooded even more vehemently than their sires
in the sects do. Sometimes, they even take steps to drive out the
unwanted competition. This is one of the more poignant conflicts
in the Time of Thin Blood: It makes enemies of those who should
be allies (and vice versa).
• Thin-blooded vs. mortals: Even when thin-blooded have
no inkling whatsoever of the Masquerade, that doesn’t mean they
have any less to fear from mortals. Quite the opposite — since the
thin-blooded frequently retain their mortal ties much longer than
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
98
other neonates, their risk of exposure is dramatically increased. Nor
do they have as much supernatural weaponry at their disposal for
fighting off the witch-hunters. Conversely, Fearless Vampire Killers
who have been schooled in traditional methods of detecting and
destroying the undead are in for a few surprises when it comes to
the thin-blooded, something smart characters can easily turn to
their own advantage.
• Seers vs. elders: The seers’ clairvoyant talent often tells
them about the plots and dirty little secrets of the Jyhad’s senior
players. Whether seers use that information is up to them, but
since they realize, as few others can, just how important their
part is in the grand scheme, they’ll probably feel obliged to say or
do something (knowing that your actions might help or prevent
doomsday itself is the mother of all guilt trips). As a result, seers
tend to find themselves at odds with the mighty. They must
tread carefully, always leaving themselves an escape route, always
seeking out allies wherever possible. If a seer makes an especially
powerful enemy, she may be recruited by someone else with a
vendetta against that same elder: a local anarch leader, perhaps,
or an ancient clan rival.
• Rebels vs. collaborationists: A common predicament
is no bar to strife, and the thin-blooded themselves have many
differences of opinion — especially on the subject of Kindred
society. Many thin-blooded, perhaps most, long for acceptance
by their own kind. Others, politicized by the harsh treatment
they have received, hold that assimilation is the tool of the devil.
They deliberately adopt a counterculture stance, and if they
cannot persuade their fellows to join in, they may well resort to
harsher methods. So those holdouts thinks they’ll be left alone
if they don’t bother anyone? Well, perhaps an anonymous letter
with their address and a photograph of their little dhampir girl
should be sent to the local harpy. Then they’ll see how futile it
is to hope for peace!
• Cult vs. Cult: Cults are not exactly a new phenomenon
among the Kindred, but rarely in history have so many existed
at once. Rather than some titanic battle between good and evil,
consider giving your players a dirty little vendetta to satisfy. Even
minor differences in ideology are enough to set two Gehenna cults at
each others’ throats; after all, the fate of the world depends on it.
CHRONICLES IN
THE TIME OF THIN
BLOOD
As mentioned in the Introduction, the Time of Thin Blood
isn’t the end of the world, only the beginning of the end. Still,
the specter of Gehenna haunts all chronicles set in this dangerous
time. Its menace should be obscure and yet completely plausible.
As for the Jyhad, which has gone into overdrive for the occasion,
it’s a mystery that defies all investigation, but if the players’ char-
acter hope to survive, much less to shape the course of events,
investigate they must.
All this is a tall order for Storytellers — especially since no
amount of poring over White Wolf supplements can yield the
definitive answer to what is really going on in the brackish, torpid
minds of the Ancients. This ambiguity is deliberate. After all, who
can fathom the gods? Well, you can. It’s your apocalypse.
Needless to say, the players should remain mystified for the
greater part of the epic; the Storyteller, though, must have a clear
view of the big picture. Many different clues and theories have been
promulgated in the published World of Darkness material, to say
nothing of the various (and often vociferous) fan communities. It
is your task to pick and choose among them or create your own,
then weave the elements that your players, if not your characters,
are probably familiar with into a coherent conspiracy that intrigues
and surprises them. What follows is a set of suggestions for building
an eve-of-Gehenna chronicle from the ground up.
STEP ONE: ADJUST THE FOCUS
In part, this means making some basic decisions about mood,
theme, conflicts, etc., just as you would for any chronicle. Another
very important issue is scale. An eve-of-Gehenna chronicle may well
tend to assume (ahem) Biblical proportions, but this need not be
the case. It can just as easily confine itself to the conflicts between
sects, cults, clans, etc. Once you’ve decided on the true scale of your
chronicle, you can decide how quickly you want to reveal it to the
characters. Will they suddenly be plunged into events a good deal
beyond their control? Or will they gradually come to realize just
how far-reaching the implications of their actions are?
STEP TWO:
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
Even if your chronicle is taking place on a modest scale, it
probably helps to have at least a basic idea of what the antagonists
(whoever they may be) are really trying to accomplish. The Jyhad
is as arcane and many-faceted as the individuals who wage it,
and one can hardly hope to show more than a part of the picture
clearly in any single chronicle. Presented here are some issues for
the Storyteller to consider as she builds her web of intrigue.
• Last Man Standing: Many Kindred think of the Jyhad as
a giant game of King of the Hill, fated to end in the usurpation
of Caine’s patriarchy (and perhaps even his very Blood) by one
of the Antediluvians. They see this same principle extending all
the way down through the generations. Vampires are solitary
predators; each ultimately seeks a solitary victory. In the mad race
for individual power, all ties of trust, belief and even Blood itself
ultimately become meaningless. The Jyhad is thus the highest
expression of the Beast’s brutal, selfish imperatives.
• Holy War: Personal ambition isn’t the only driving force
behind the cannibalism. Ideology, too, plays a strong role. The
very word Jyhad refers to the wholehearted pursuit of a holy cause,
and surely the Ancients are its architects. The First and Second
Cities were monuments to Cainite pride, yes, but also to Cainite
vision. In some Noddist legends, the Antediluvians quarrel over
God, Golconda and everything else under the moon — but most
especially, how best to carry on their grandsire’s abandoned king-
ship. Eminent Kindred scholars have identified what they believe
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to be the main factions of the clan founders. Details may be lost in
the fog of oral tradition, but the overall picture is clear: There really
was some age-old metaphysical contention, and the Ancients did
take sides. No doubt, they’ve dreamed of their many missteps and
failures as they slept. No doubt, they fully intend to get it right this
time… once the heretics are out of the way, that is.
• When the Stars Are Right: “Holy war” or not, Kindred
fears of Gehenna tend to revolve more around what the Ancients
will do on first rising than around their future plans. After millennia
spent in torpor, their hunger will have sharpened to a keenness
inconceivable to those of lesser Blood. Their powerful Beasts will
have overwhelmed all lingering traces of human thought or feeling.
Like alien juggernauts, they’ll range over the world to consume
the souls of their childer, and who will be able to stand against
them? Perhaps the last hope lies with their childer, those few who
have survived with a shred of sanity intact. They must remember
something that could help their descendants weather the disaster;
but will they tell it, or do they mean to interpose the rest of the
Kindred race between themselves and their sires?
• The Generation Gap: On another level, Gehenna serves
a purpose similar to that of the redwood forest fires. Although
the fire itself devastates the adult trees, the great heat also cracks
open the shells of the acorns and permits them to grow. This is
a natural mechanism, designed to prevent overcrowding. Just so,
the feast of the Ancients makes room for the continuation of the
Cainite race. The Antediluvians rise, cull the surplus population
and return to torpor. Supposedly, this has already happened several
times in human history (or prehistory). Gehenna is the inevitable
culmination of an ecological cycle; nothing more, nothing less.
• The Big Lie: Gehenna is a myth, just as your Camarilla
sire always said. Whatever may have actually happened in those
remote first millennia, it’s since been buried beyond recall in
the untruths and half-truths of the Methuselahs. Not a Noddist
verse, not a Lilin chant, not a page of the Brujah’s history scrolls
has escaped being twisted to serve the Ancients’ purposes. Even
now, the shadowy Kindred of the Fourth and Fifth Generations
hope to use their progenies’ fear of apocalypse to turn the higher
generations against one another — and preserve their own place
at the top of the ladder now and for all time. Go ahead — pick a
lie; pick any lie. It doesn’t make any difference.
•The Fisher King: The Book of Nod and other vampiric
scriptures often portray Caine as a tragic figure, a sort of wounded
god. His curse consists not only of the physical reality of vampirism,
but also of his estrangement from God, humanity and himself.
He is crippled forever by his inability to repent and forgive. And
perhaps this is the problem that most deserves to occupy the at-
tention of the Kindred. After all, Caine is the one, true source of
the Blood, the one true father of the vampires. Therefore, as Caine
fares, so shall the Cainites. The Arimatheans seek the Holy Grail
so they can lift it to their Dark Father’s lips in the Final Nights
and thereby cleanse the whole race of his mark. Proponents of
Golconda say that if only they could find Caine to teach him, he
and all he has wrought could be put back in balance. Why bother
with the Antediluvians?
• The Dark Mother: Vampires of the sects often forget the
demon queen when they lean over the chessboard of the Jyhad to
ponder endgame. Others remember all too well that the queen is
the most powerful of all the pieces. Caine became the father of
vampires through Jehovah’s curse, but it was Lilith who supposedly
granted him true power. She made him; she can break him. And
break him she will, for what he’s done — along with his squabbling
childer. Lilith evokes potent and valid terror wherever her hand
comes to rest. Like Kali, the Hindu goddess, she is both the dark
force of destruction and the creative principle of motherhood,
wise in the great, bloody secret no man can truly understand. As
her Bahari multiply, reveling, recruiting and growing stronger in
the pain of a race poised to destroy itself, who’s to say that the
final move won’t be hers?
STEP THREE: THE PRINCIPALS
Once you’ve decided what the Jyhad will be focusing on
in your chronicle, you can set about designing the important
antagonists. Some of them should remain hidden for a good part
of the chronicle; after all, no conspiracy is complete without pup-
pet masters. Nevertheless, even their offstage actions are sure to
have considerable impact on the flow of events. And the players’
characters will most certainly have dealings with the manipulators’
allies and followers, all of whom can be created as necessary.
Flesh out your nemeses as lovingly as the players do their
characters. Most importantly, know their motivations — no
one, even a lunatic, exists for the sole purpose of doing mischief.
Moreover, those motivations should be as epic as the villains
themselves: grand ideologies, burning vendettas. By and large,
they should act in accordance with their own best interests,
though occasionally it’s necessary, for story’s sake, to have them
make a miscalculation. A hint: Antagonists with tragic flaws are
good deal more pliable.…
STEP FOUR: THE PLOT
Although player initiative is absolutely essential to the
momentum of a chronicle, it is your responsibility to capture the
players’ interest, to give their characters an opportunity to get
involved, and then to guide their process of discovery.
The last is especially important in an eve-of-Gehenna
chronicle because the sacred mystery and frantic intrigue of the
end times virtually demand an investigative plot. Whatever the
characters seek, be it revenge or revelation, earthly treasure or
the bliss of Golconda, they can find it only by patiently collecting
and assembling your clues. The following section details several
archetypal patterns that can assist the Storyteller in laying out
those clues.
• The Russian Doll: Have you ever seen a Russian Matry-
oshka doll — each doll splits open to reveal another doll inside? A
conspiracy plot can seem like that. The characters start by getting
caught up in one intrigue. Eventually, they figure out who’s doing
what to whom — but discover that the local intrigue is just part
of a broader conspiracy involving more powerful forces. When
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100
they penetrate that conspiracy, they discover a still greater power
at work. Have they found the true “secret masters”? Perhaps,
perhaps not.
The starting point might be a conflict between factions of a
city’s primogen, using the neonates and ancillae as pawns. This
is the first layer, the outermost “doll.” Eventually the characters
discover that one of the factions is allied with another city’s prince,
who wants to discredit a rival. They have discovered a deeper level
to the conflict, the strife between princes within the Camarilla.
That’s the second “doll.” As they feel their way through this Jyhad,
they learn about the Methuselahs and how they use their progeny
as catspaws for their own rivalries: a third, fourth, or even deeper
layer of the nested doll of conspiracies. Behind the Methuselahs
lies the awful power of the Antediluvians and the Great Jyhad
that drives all the other intrigues (and the characters should be
so lucky to survive long enough to get this far...).
In sum, the Russian Doll model posits multiple layers of plot.
As the characters penetrate layer after layer, they approach the
center of the doll and the prime movers of the Jyhad. The doll is a
good model for epic chronicles, since it promises great revelations
and a chance to get involved with the most important conflicts
in the World of Darkness. It also works well for more mystical
quests, such as seeking Golconda.
The Russian doll’s disadvantage is a lack of what to do for an
encore after you’ve revealed the ultimate mysteries. The Russian
Doll model works best for chronicles that have a definite ending
point. It is also the best model when a chronicle cannot involve a
lot of travel. As the Chicago Chronicles show, a major city might
hold all the protagonists and antagonists of a series of intrigues,
all the way back to a pair of warring Methuselahs.
• The Jigsaw Puzzle: In contrast, the Jigsaw Puzzle model
is far less structured. Here, the characters must wait a long time
before they see the big picture of the Jyhad — assuming they ever
do. In a jigsaw chronicle, the characters see only the small, local
intrigues. None of the clues have any obvious relation to one
another. The characters have no way of knowing which events
have a deeper significance. As they learn more and more about
the World of Darkness, however, they find connections and pat-
terns in events. A sinister picture starts to emerge. Eventually,
they put together enough information to understand the dreadful
secret of the Jyhad.
Clan and sect conflicts are particularly suited for jigsaw
chronicles (although the Storyteller should be careful about
applying the model too zealously; clan and sect members almost
never act in perfect concert, or even in near-perfect concert).
For instance, in city after city, the characters discover Tremere
involvement in the local conflicts. What are the Warlocks really
up to? The Camarilla-Sabbat war naturally lends itself to jigsaw
treatment too, as the grand strategies of each sect emerge from a
welter of smaller plots and counterplots.
The jigsaw is open-ended: Characters can always find more
pieces of the puzzle. Note, however, that the characters need to
have reason and opportunity to travel frequently. The players
might also get impatient if the Storyteller perpetually delays the
great revelation, so it may not be wise to put too many pieces in the
puzzle. The Storyteller faces the challenge of keeping the players’
interest while the picture of the conflict slowly assembles itself.
On the other hand, once the characters get a hint of the
big picture, the paranoia flows freely. Everything receives intense
scrutiny to see if it fits the conspiracy theory. And the thrill of
finally putting together all the pieces of the puzzle has few equals
in gaming.
• The Chain: The Chain model is a bit more structured
than the Jigsaw Puzzle, but more open-ended than the Russian
Doll. Here, each local fight, mystery or intrigue holds clues that
lead to the next problem.
A chain chronicle is heavily episodic, with the strengths
and weaknesses that implies. On one hand, the characters always
have convenient hooks leading them into the next story. Chain
chronicles lend themselves to recurring opponents; in fact, pursuit
of an archnemesis might be what binds the sequence of adventures
together. Chains also work well for treasure hunts where the “prize”
comes in several pieces (for instance, a search for the lost chapters
of The Book of Nod). Many television shows have used the chain
as a model. Like these shows, however, a chain chronicle can
sometimes lean more toward action than horror, so beware.
On the other hand, a chain can be frustrating if it doesn’t
seem to lead anywhere. Ultimately, there must be an end to the
chain. Characters must feel that they are headed toward some sort
of resolution, whether it’s to catch the one-armed vampire who
framed them for murder or to collect the complete text of The
Book of Nod. The Storyteller can delay the resolution indefinitely
— but unless the players feel that their characters have made some
progress, they will probably get bored.
• Combination: One can often counteract the weaknesses
of individual models by combining them. For instance, a Russian
Doll plot may seem a little too tidy — and the World of Darkness
might start looking a bit too completely controlled. And if it’s
too easy to uncover the next layer of the conspiracy, the players
may legitimately wonder why other vampires of greater power
haven’t foiled the conspiracy already. The solution? Make the
characters assemble a jigsaw puzzle of clues or follow a chain of
leads to penetrate each layer of the Russian doll.
Conversely, after the characters figure out the “big picture”
formed by a jigsaw of small events, or follow a chain to its end, they
may find that there’s yet another Russian Doll layer of mysteries
behind it. What they thought was the end was only the beginning
of something much bigger.
They might discover that the Camarilla-Sabbat war is ma-
nipulated by a powerful group of Methuselahs who play both sides.
The dying words of the one-armed vampire might force them to
re-examine past events that seemed unrelated at the time, but now
look like parts of a Jigsaw Puzzle. It all depends on how intricate
you want to make your plot, the interest level of the players and
the length of the chronicle.
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STEP FIVE: SET THE STAGE
Once all these decisions have been made (if not before), you
should have a look at the players’ prospective characters. Much of
how the chronicle progresses will depend on their nature and goals.
Don’t be afraid to disallow or encourage certain character types if
you think doing so helps the flow of plot or troupe cohesion (though
you should certainly make this much clear to players before they
develop characters). Play through Preludes — with special atten-
tion to developing Backgrounds — then go back to the drawing
board. Do some detail work before the next session. The design for
the opening story and the initial antagonists should be based on
the characters’ situation, which should now be firmly established.
Natural curiosity can carry them only so far, especially in the be-
ginning; give them a genuine stake in the course of events. Even
if you are counting on one particular character to provide most of
the momentum for that first story, make sure you have something
for everyone. It’s all too easy to lose people in the beginning, and
commensurately difficult to recapture them later on.
COTERIES
Several different ideas for character coteries in the Time of
Thin Blood are presented here.
THE THIN-BLOODED COTERIE
When thin-blooded reach out into the night, occasionally
they are lucky enough to find each other, rather than the countless
predators that lie in wait. The bonds of loyalty in such a coterie are
often unusually strong. After all, who else can really understand?
All they have in the world is one another. To survive, the young
vampires may have to share not only herds and havens, but what-
ever scant wisdom and experience they might possess.
The vampires of a thin-blooded coterie will probably have
to devote much of their attention to survival; the search for a safe
haven, where they can live in relative peace, can take up a large
portion of the chronicle. However, the need for meaning will haunt
them almost as relentlessly. Lacking an inherited vampire culture,
they are bound to go in search of one eventually. This can end in
their discovering Kindred society, or even the societies of other
supernaturals; or they might fall prey to the seductive philosophy
of an apocalyptic cult. Alternatively, they might create a cult of
their own, modeling themselves on something they’ve seen in a
movie or heard from mortal guru. Kindred of the major sects can
only shake their heads in wonder when they encounter the bizarre
unlifestyles that proliferate among the vagrants.
A highly mystical chronicle can be built, for example, around
a coterie comprising thin-blooded seers (and perhaps a follower
or two). On top of all the other reasons to ally, seers experience a
great multiplication of their clairvoyant powers when they work
in tandem. A coterie of seers might have been hand-picked and
assembled by some powerful vampire with a Gehenna-obsession,
or they might have found one another, having been drawn to the
same place by premonitions of the same disaster. Seers frequently
travel the world looking for items, locations and people that can
inspire their vision. If they share their talents with Kindred society,
they are likely to attract a sizable audience, some of whom will
persist in their interest even between omens; the seers might find
this attention welcome or troublesome, but at the very least, it
will make their unlives interesting. Of course, they will no doubt
gain a number of enemies as well.
THE MIXED COTERIE
A thin-blooded character in a coterie of normal vampires is
often viewed as something of a burden. He is far weaker, particularly
in combat, and may need protection — especially if the scourge
should happen to pay a visit. On the other hand, he can bring
unique skills and abilities to the group, as well as a fresh (some
would say naïve) perspective. If he has enough personal charm,
he may be able to establish himself as a sort of “mascot” or “kid
brother” for the coterie. If not, he should be prepared to put up
with constant ribbing and even bullying.
In the present climate of prejudice and misunderstanding,
the most plausible scenario for a mixed coterie is one in which
the thin-blooded members are the childer of the other characters;
however, it’s not the only possibility. Neonates in a coterie (or a
pack or gang, for that matter) are not always in a position secure
enough that they can afford to disdain an outsider’s help, however
minute. If a member of the highest generations manages to obtain
some prestation over them, they may allow him to skulk on the
edges of their group, rather like a neighborhood cat permitted to
eat on the porch but not to come inside. In cities that don’t yet
have a scourge to sniff around investigating illegitimate sirings,
anarchs and Caitiff might be willing to take in a weakling childe,
as long as she doesn’t show definite signs of being on the run.
Lastly, seers’ abilities are so prized (and feared) that a character
who possesses them has far less trouble than other thin-blooded
finding a coterie to accept him. Of course, said coterie may well
have less than entirely altruistic motives in extending the generous
invitation, but unlife is full of such Faustian bargains.
Whenever and however a mixed coterie comes about, any
chronicle in which it is involved is likely to deal extensively with
the subject of prejudice. The coterie may struggle for acceptance
among the Cainites, or it may eventually declare sour grapes and
withdraw into hermitage, but while the battle lasts, it can provide
the chronicle with countless little dramas. Another good point
of the mixed coterie is the opportunity it provides to reverse the
usual progression of things. Most thin-blooded chronicles are sure
to explore the viewpoint of the thin-blooded as they gradually
encounter more and more of other vampires’ bizarre customs. But
the trials a mixed coterie faces often end up drawing it away from
Kindred society, even when the majority of the coterie’s members
are legitimate Kindred of established clans. In the first case, the
process is one of assimilation, in the second, of alienation. When
the two things happen at the same time — i.e., the thin-blooded
in the group become more comfortable with the Kindred outlook,
while the rest grow disgusted with the cruel and fearful behavior of
their former colleagues — it’s especially fascinating to watch.
CHAPTER FIVE: NEW BLOOD
103
CHAPTER FIVE:
NEW BLOOD
Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning
to breathe free…
— Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”
that most stirred you. The Three Musketeers, Le Morte d’Arthur,
The Lord of the Rings, Treasure Island… you had devoured all
these and more before you finished middle school. No one was
surprised when you decided to double-major in medieval history
and literature.
You were a mere 18 credit-hours away from your bachelor’s
degree when Nicodemus found you. At first, you knew him only
as the odd old man who sometimes came by your study carrel
late at night. He repelled you personally, but his first few offhand
comments revealed a deep understanding of the work of Victor
Hugo, which happened to be the subject of the paper you were
working on. Eventually, conversation with the strange man
became a habit.
You even got into a friendly gentleman’s game: Every week,
each of you would propose some odd, obscure trivia question
The following templates are meant to provide inspira-
tion, as well as to show the variety of character types that
can be created with Time of Thin Blood rules. They can
also be used as quick-start players’ characters, however.
CINDERELLA
Quote: No, I can’t make it Thursday — Nicodemus wants me
to delouse the rat-guardians and sweep the library. Oh, I couldn’t do
that either — Nicodemus says the Toreador hate us. Anyway, just
look at me….
Prelude: You were always the shy little boy with the glasses.
The other kids teased you for your bookishness, and the more
they teased, the more you withdrew, until the only life you knew
was in your imagination, in the tales of passion and derring-do
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
104
for the other to research, and whoever discovered his answer first was declared the winner. At first, Nicodemus beat you every
time, but as you honed your research skills, you quickly caught up. You never realized that you were being trained until it was
too late. A few months after your first meeting, while you were desperately cramming for finals, Nicodemus found you in your
carrel and invited you out for a breather and a cup of coffee. It was unexpected, but you’d long since decided he was harmless.
Your mistake.
Now you know the purpose for which your sire was preparing you. A huge Nosferatu warren exists under the streets of
your city, and within that warren is a library, bigger than the downtown city library and the
university library put together. The books date from the eighth century all the way up to
last month. Pompeii-style murals, visible only to “Kindred” eyes, line the walls in a giant
historical tapestry. It is truly a thing of beauty — but librarians are desperately needed,
especially since a certain Nosferatu vampire recently began demanding research reports
on the most bizarre and obscure subjects.
Nicodemus had marked you to become one of the library’s custodians. He’d noted
your intellect, your social awkwardness and your love of books, and he decided that you
would never miss your mortal life above. He underestimated you. Even worse, he over-
estimated himself. When he Embraced you, his weak blood sparked a pitiful response
in yours. Although your sire was a Nosferatu, you became a Caitiff, as his Blood left
none of its disfigurements upon you.
You are so naïve, you truly don’t understand why Nicodemus hates you so —
but he indisputably does. He constantly insults you and belittles your intellect.
He goes out of his way to make your existence unpleasant, providing you with
only the filthiest, most maggot-ridden rags to wear and the scrawniest prey to feed
on (you haven’t yet graduated to a diet of human blood, nor are you supposed to
leave the safety of the sewers till you’re older, whenever that may be in a vampire
context). He fills your schedule with at least as many menial chores as genuine
research projects.
One night, when your Auspex had reached the point where you didn’t need
your Coke-bottle glasses anymore (squinting at old texts in the dark was wonderful
practice), you threw them away. Nicodemus saw your sea-green, almond-shaped
eyes in the lamplight and went berserk. He chopped most of your hair off in uneven
chunks and savaged your face with a pocketknife. Many times since, he has repeated
this barbering and butchery, punishing you if you dare try to heal the wounds.
Concept: You’ve never thought of yourself as one of the beautiful people; in fact,
all your life you’ve considered yourself unattractive. But the truth is that you were just
awkward, bespectacled and poorly dressed. Next to your Nosferatu peers, you look like
a runway model, and they resent you for it. Despite the close eye they keep on you,
you’ve managed to make a few Kindred and mortal acquaintances outside the sewer: a
friendly mission worker and a small coterie of anarchs, who all keep encouraging you to
grow a backbone and rejoin society. You are reluctant to do so, since you know what would
happen to you if you got caught, but every so often you can be cajoled into sneaking out.
You have heard wondrous tales of a power called Celerity, which would surely help you
complete all those unfinished chores before sunrise.
Roleplaying Tips: You are a gentle soul, and you do your work dutifully and patiently,
hoping that in time your usefulness will gain you acceptance. But the more you learn and
excel, the more venomous your warren-mates become. You have been subjected to taunts
and snide comments since childhood, and now genuine abuse, so you’ve become painfully
shy. Flinch if people make sudden movements or try to touch your filthy body. You are a
worthless creature. Although your heart dreams of adventure and noble deeds, so far you lack
the courage to leave the confines of your cloistered world for long; your true Nature is almost
completely suppressed. Note that you rarely enjoy the full benefit of your Appearance Attribute,
since you generally walk around filthy and disfigured by your sire’s mutilations. You’re allowed
to keep only your hands clean—for handling the books.
Equipment: Notepad, fine fountain pen (a premature graduation gift), personal library of
paperback classics, hidden wad of cash from draining your old checking account via ATM
NAME:
PLAYER:
CHRONICLE:
NATURE: GALLANT
DEMEANOR: PENITENT
CLAN: CAITIFF
GENERATION: 14TH
HAVEN:
CONCEPT: CINDERELLA
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ALLIES
CONTRACTS
AUSPEX
ANIMALISM
14TH GENERATION (2F)
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
106
DHAMPIR WAIF
Quote: This is her picture. She’s pretty, huh? Dad used to say I have her eyes…. Oh, I don’t go places
with strangers. Really? Well, if you’re sure you saw her there.
Prelude: Even when you strain for your earliest memories, you can remember nothing about
your mother. Dad always told you that she died of AIDS. Then he died of it himself. You got lucky —
HIV-negative — but the social workers who took over your life treated you as if you were diseased just
the same. Nobody wanted to adopt a gangly, gap-toothed, mixed-race eight-year-old. You were shuttled
from orphanage to foster home and back again more times than you could count.
In school, you managed to fail almost every subject, but you were so willful and headstrong that
your teachers usually passed you on to the next grade just to get rid of you. Although you quickly
got a reputation as a bully in every school you attended, the truth was that half the time you
were just defending yourself. So those boys got all upset when they found out you could shove
back harder than they could. Boo hoo. Next time maybe they’ll think twice.
Then one sweet day, your aunt came and got you. She said she’d been looking for you for
years, but your dad had moved around so much she’d lost track. She and your uncle were so
good to you, you almost felt bad about that one time when you swiped a fiver from her purse.
They fed you square meals and even took you to the dentist for braces, but they couldn’t give you
what you wanted most of all: stories about your dead mama. They didn’t know anything about her,
they said. She was just some floozy your dad had picked up on the road. You didn’t want to believe
them, so you started going through their things when they weren’t around.
Locked away in one of your uncle’s desk drawers, you finally found what you were looking
for: letters from Dad to your aunt. He’d written about meeting this beautiful, angelic woman who
loved him and was going to help him kick the drugs and the booze. He’d even sent a picture of her,
a cheap Polaroid. She was milk-white, just like you’d always suspected she must be, with hollow
cheeks and a row of freckles across her nose. Still, there was a kind of wasted beauty to her.
The letters got sadder and shorter. He’d tested positive. He couldn’t get any gigs. She was
feeling poorly. No, she was pregnant. Again and again, the letters asked for money. Your birth was
described in one curt sentence, and the next sentence held an awful truth: Mama didn’t died, she
left. She left you, 10 days old, with your poor, sick dad. Where’d she gone? He didn’t know; she
used to talk about having family in Chicago.
You knew what you had to do. In your very best script, you wrote a note to your aunt and uncle
to explain where you were going and why. You even forgave them for lying to you. Then, photo
in hand, you got on the next bus.
Concept: You have almost no idea of your supernatural heritage. The powers you possess were
developed by instinct, and you generally use them only in a fight or other stressful situation. Still,
you’re learning fast. In fact, a few odd things your father said in the last stages of dementia came
back to you recently, spurring your investigation in a new direction. Although you don’t realize it,
and despite your woefully deficient education, you’re becoming quite a little sleuth. The trouble is,
you’re likely to stumble across stuff you shouldn’t long before you’re ready to handle it.
Roleplaying Tips: At 13, you still haven’t quite lost your baby fat. Adults take one look at your
braids and your chubby cheeks and think you an innocent. And in many ways, you are; but you’ve also
had a lot of grief and pain for such a short life, and you’ve taken care of yourself for as long as you can
remember. Play along with the grownups, all sugar and spice, until they thwart you. Then, let your jaw
harden, cross your strong arms and show them all what a little hellion they’re really dealing with.
Equipment: Fading photo, fanny pack full of photocopied county records, Walkman, wicked
fighting knife, phone number of aunt (who is frantically looking for you!)
NAME:
PLAYER:
CHRONICLE:
NATURE: FANATIC
DEMEANOR: CHILD
CLAN: NONE
GENERATION: NONE
HAVEN:
CONCEPT: DHAMPIR WAIF
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CONTRACTS
ALLIES
RESOURCES
POTENCE
FORTITUDE
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
108
SEER
Quote: Beware, mighty prince! Your doom is on the horizon. Three
heads it has, and five legs, and two tongues. It will come to your city and
befriend your enemies, who know... who know the way to... damn.
Lost reception. I can try again later, should it please my prince.
Prelude: You always wanted to believe in ESP. In fact,
you spent a great deal of your adolescence dabbling
in the supernatural with your friends and their
friends, holding séances with the Ouija board
and doing Tarot readings. They all wanted you
to do their readings because you seemed to
be so uncannily accurate.
You never had the heart to tell them
your doubts. Sure, the cards usually
came up in appropriate patterns, but
their unadorned meanings were
vague enough to fit a number of
interpretations. Nor did you
feel any mysterious force
closing the gap for you. As
far as you could tell, you
just had good “people
sense.” You tried hard to
take the supernatural on faith,
the way all your creepy friends did;
still, some skeptical corner of you kept
demanding proof.
Meanwhile, you grew up. Eventu-
ally, worldly concerns sapped away all
your energy for the mystical. Your
people sense served you well — in
a crushingly mundane job as a flight
attendant.
Then, one night, you were work-
ing a little commuter flight. There
were only three passengers, and two
of them, bleary-eyed businessmen,
had fallen asleep within five minutes
of departure. The other was a very at-
tractive, mustachioed young man with
a bit of a brogue. You chatted with him
for lack of anything better to do. He
claimed to be a paranormal researcher.
You were fascinated by his anecdotes.
He seemed to find your interest amus-
ing — and stimulating. He told you he
had a meeting to go to that evening,
but if you were planning to stay up late,
he’d love to go out for drinks with you
afterward. You accepted.
Five or six hours later, you were in
his hotel room, more than half-drunk,
trying to take a Zener card test. You have
no idea how well you did — not very,
you expect — and the two of you went to bed together instead
of finishing it, anyway. The lovemaking was amazingly tender.
Eventually, an odd thing began to happen. Memories of your life
came back to you in flashes, and you sensed his presence in your
mind, sharing those memories. It distracted you from your physical
pleasure, but the experience of connecting with another person so
intimately more than made up for it. Just before you lost conscious-
ness, he whispered the words that you’d been yearning to hear all
your life: “You have the gift.”
Vague nightmares haunted you as you slept through the
day and into the following evening. You woke up to find you’d
been stuffed into a jumbo garbage bag and tossed in an alley
dumpster.
You were naked, and you should have been freezing as well
in the pouring rain. Getting some clothes proved to be a hell of
an adventure; luckily, somebody finally called the cops on you,
and they took one look at your cold, pallid skin and decided you
couldn’t be doing this on purpose. You were taken to the police
station and given a blanket and some old sweats to wear. You gave
your statement, but a funny feeling in the pit of your stomach told
you to refuse hospital treatment. Despite their warnings about
hypothermia, you headed out to find a phone booth and get your
credit cards canceled. Life, or to be more accurate, unlife, has been
getting weirder ever since.
Concept: You are a born communicator. You have an
uncanny knack for reading people, now supplemented by the
unreliable, but powerful, force of your visions. Most importantly,
you can tell who has the leverage in any situation. When you
know you have valuable information, hold out for the best pos-
sible price.
You’ve been approached by a number of bizarre people since
your Embrace. So far, you’ve politely turned down all offers to
serve as cult priestess or messiah-for-hire. You set your own hours
and come and go as you please. Sometimes a little blackmail or
false enticement is necessary to preserve that independence, but
you can’t really feel bad about that. After all, they’re horrible
vampires who just want to use your gifts for their own evil plots.
It’s even amusing to make them scramble. Most Kindred despise
you as a freak of unnature, but so what? You have several princes
competing to hire you as a personal adviser. Although you keep
hoping your sire will turn up, the odds of that seem pretty lean.
Obviously, he took you for dead, or he wouldn’t have disposed
of you the way he did.
Roleplaying Tips: Act a little overconfident. You really don’t
understand how much trouble you’re potentially getting yourself
into. Then again, you certainly don’t want to have a bunch of
powerful vampires pissed off at you either, so you usually try to
ingratiate yourself with whoever seems to be in charge. You never
admit that you’re manipulating anybody; everything you do is
couched in terms of your “messages from beyond.” Not that you
lie about what you see in the visions — that would be an abuse
of your precious gift. You just report selectively sometimes; hey,
you gotta defend yourself. Whenever you’re alone, you scribble
complex diaries of your prophetic dreams. You’re sure you really
do have the answer… somewhere.
Equipment: Scrying mirror, crystals, incense, velvet-wrapped
Tarot deck, clove cigarettes
NAME:
PLAYER:
CHRONICLE:
NATURE: SURVIVOR
DEMEANOR: VISIONARY
CLAN: CATIFF
GENERATION: 15TH
HAVEN:
CONCEPT: SEER
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INSIGHT
CONTACTS
AUSPEX
15TH GENERATION (4F)
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
110
VAMPIRE DAD
Quote: Son, I think we need to have a talk about keeping
family secrets.
Prelude: She called herself Donna Felisa. When you
answered the door that night, she smiled charmingly, picked
you up and threw you across the room. When you came to,
she had your wife and children trussed up like Thanksgiving
turkeys. Donna Felisa explained that the Sabbat wanted your
town. As the most successful real-estate agent in the area,
you would locate accommodations. She regretted that you
couldn’t undergo the true Creation Rites, but she needed
your mind clear in the nights to come. Maybe later. While
your wife watched, Donna Felisa drained your blood and
made you a vampire. You woke up hungry… but that’s why
this creature had left your family alive. By supreme effort of
will, you kept yourself from killing any of them. Donna Felisa
laughed. “Maybe later, when the Vaulderie has changed your
loyalties,” she said. If you served well, she promised, her pack
would promote you from slave to equal through something
called the ritus.
Thank God your neighbor Phil came by to return the
lawnmower. Thinking nobody was home, he opened the ga-
rage door with the key you gave him last summer so he could
feed your dog, Buster. The late afternoon sun shone full on
Donna Felisa. She woke up just long enough to scream once
before she burned to ash.
Luckily, you slept behind the workbench and the scream
woke you up. You told Phil to shut the door, then go upstairs
to free your family. Phil had a lot of questions. At first you
tried to explain. Then you just told Phil to look into your
eyes. Donna Felisa could hypnotize people; she’d shown that
when she… played… with your wife. Turned out, you could
too. You told Phil to forget the whole thing, and he did.
Somehow you managed to put your — life? — together
again. More hypnosis erased at least some of the nightmares
from your family. You talked your boss at the realty into let-
ting you show houses at night. Actually, some clients were
pleased; they had busy day jobs. Buster had to go, but a few
hutches of rabbits out back gave you an alternative to feeding
off your wife and your clients.
Then your wife had her nervous breakdown. You couldn’t
have her tell the doctor why, could you? More hypnosis, and
when that wasn’t enough you fed her your blood three times,
like Donna Felisa had wanted to do to you.
Once more, your wife smiled when you entered the
room. Then Bobby’s girlfriend saw too much, and you had to
hypnotize her to make her forget. That upset Bobby. Maybe
that’s why he tried to pound a stake into you. Hypnosis time
for Bobby. Now, little Justin’s teacher wants to have a word
with you about the wild stories he’s telling at school. And
how many lame explanations have you given to your nosy
next-door neighbors? Maybe they need a little look-deep-
into-my-eyes, too. Hardly a week goes by without some absurd
new predicament.
Sometimes, you have to laugh at your existence — because
the only alternative would be to scream. And once you start
screaming, you might not ever stop.
Concept: Remember those ’60s supernatural sitcoms
like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie? Your unlife might
be called Vampire Dad. You’re a
regular, middle-class family man
who got turned into a vampire.
All you have to sustain you in
this horrible, secret world of
monsters are your wits and the
abilities you developed as a skillful
realtor. Fortunately, you’re
a super salesman, which
gives you an incredible
knack for Dominate.
You can make nearly
anyone believe nearly
anything… for a little
while. You’ll probably
need that skill when
Donna Felisa’s friends
show up.
Ro l e p l a y i ng
Hints: You’re a nice
guy. It’s part of your job,
yes: Nobody buys a home
from a grouch. You’re
always shaking hands and
slapping backs, with a smile
like a plumber’s helper on
the downstroke. But you
really are amiable, and that’s
how you’re gonna stay. Nice
guy, nice job, nice house in
a nice neighborhood, nice
family. It really bothers
you when you have to
rape somebody’s mind to
preserve your secret —
but someday, some way,
you will turn this hor-
rible mockery into a real,
happy family again.
Equipment: Real-
tor’s jacket, portfolio of
houses to show, sales
awards, pipe (never
lit) and a lovely home
i n the suburbs.
Weapons? What
weapons?
NAME:
PLAYER:
CHRONICLE:
NATURE: DIRECTOR
DEMEANOR: CELEBRANT
CLAN: CATIFF
GENERATION: 14TH
HAVEN:
CONCEPT: VAMPIRE DAD
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RESOURCES
CONTACTS
DOMINATE
14TH GENERATION (2F)
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
112
INCEPTOR
Quote: I’m making this up as I go along.
Prelude: You were always underestimated. Parents, teachers, friends — none of them seemed to think you’d ever amount to any-
thing. Truth told, you figured they were probably right. But the old hometown was going through a bit of a boom when you graduated
from high school, and if a guy had biceps and knew how to use them, the construction crews wanted him. You liked your work. You
didn’t get to wear a sharp suit or spend the day in air conditioning, but when you put a thing in its place, it stayed. Better than that,
you knew it would be there long after you’d forgotten about it.
Eventually, the work dried up. You started moving around, but the pickings were slim everywhere
else, too. The jobs got worse and worse, and the union just kept taking its big bite out of your pay.
Finally, you were on this one job where a section of rickety scaffolding collapsed and put three men
in the ICU. It got a story on page four. You quit in disgust.
Your friends told you there was work out east, so you decided to hitchhike. You were surprised
as hell when a pretty girl in an RV pulled over for you. You asked her if she wasn’t afraid you might
be some crazy rapist, but she just laughed.
The two of you wound up pulling off into a campground along the highway. She had a
television in her RV, and you snuggled up in the tiny bed together to watch it and talk
about life. She had a million stories; seemed she’d been knocking around the country for
the last three years. You told her the driving would be easier split two ways. She laughed
again. When you made your move on her, she told you she only liked to do it by starlight.
Fair enough, you said.
You never got past first base before she was sinking her fangs into your throat. It felt great,
but she drained you so low that you got really sick. Afterward, she just got up and started to
walk away from you, all businesslike. Who did she think she was, leaving you here when you
probably needed the emergency room? You struggled to your feet and lumbered after her,
meaning to teach her a lesson — but she held you off like you were an infant. Finally, she
shook her head and said she was going to do something she would probably regret.
That was how you became a vampire. She stayed with you just long enough to
teach you the basics and then bid you adieu. Gangrel — whatever the hell that might
be — met up every so often, she assured you, and you’d be seeing her again. You
better have some good stories when you do, though.
You aim to.
Concept: You’re a pretty self-sufficient type, and you never asked for
a break from anybody. Still, you can’t help noticing that everywhere you
go the young vampires seem to be getting a shitty deal. You have no idea
why they put up with it, and you tell them so. They don’t need those
dried-up elders; they can teach themselves how to use their powers.
Hell, you’ve done it. Sometimes the brighter-eyed among them ask to join up with you, and you
let them, for a little while… till they know the ropes and can make it on their own. You try to
spread the message every little way you can. The dubious reward? You’re becoming something of
a folk hero to the Caitiff in your corner of the world.
Roleplaying Tips: You have no idea that you’re Caitiff; your loner lifestyle is indistinguish-
able from that of the Gangrel from whom you hail. Nor, yet, do they have any real inkling of your
“deviance,” though they wouldn’t be pleased to find out. Move and talk with quiet confidence.
Exude the wisdom of the road. Of course, you’re still a little anxious over the whole vampire thing
— you haven’t yet dared to venture inside a church, for instance, and you try to confine yourself
to animal prey for as long as your self-control will let you. But you’re patient. You know that the
answer will have to come its own way, in its own time.
(Note: The Discipline marked on your character sheet as “My Power” is, well, just that — your
unique power, which you, as an inceptor’s player, must detail. Talk to your Storyteller and come to
an agreement on what this Discipline does at each of the four levels you can attain, what kind of
rolls you have to make to use it, etc. Whatever “your power” is, you’ve managed to teach your one
dot to a few Caitiff you’ve met on your journeys; you’ve also been there as a big brother for other
clanless working on new Disciplines of their own. Refer to Chapter Three for more information
on inceptor characters.)
Equipment: Bedroll, backpack, union card (you still work on night crews), motorcycle,
.45
NAME:
PLAYER:
CHRONICLE:
NATURE: SURVIVOR
DEMEANOR: CAREGIVER
CLAN: CAITIFF
GENERATION: 14TH
HAVEN:
CONCEPT: INCEPTOR
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RESOURCES
CONTACTS
HERD
MY POWER
14TH GENERATION (2F)
THIN BLOOD (4F)
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
115
For many years, the World of Darkness has teetered on
the brink of chaos. Well, it’s finally happened. Vampires call it
the Week of Nightmare, when Gehenna moved from a remote
possibility to an immediate terror.
The end of the world is nigh — and under way already.…
THE HORROR
AWAKENS
The acolyte genuflected to Tieh Ju, the Iron Chrysanthemum,
quickly touching his forehead to the marble floor three times. She
impassively noted the slight breach of decorum but instantly forgave it.
She knew her pupils. They would not hasten because of small matters.
She nodded her response a hairsbreadth further than usual, granting
permission to address her without her panoply of honorifics.
The acolyte did not waste words. “Revered teacher, word
has come from the Court of Luoyang. The ancestor claims that
the Eight Thunders Master has left her mountain.”
The Eight Thunders Master. This did not entirely surprise
the Iron Chrysanthemum. She asked, “Did the messenger say
which way the master journeyed?”
“West,” replied the acolyte. As she expected. All the
omens suggested a resolution to the long war with the false
vampires of India. Two nights before, she had felt the earth
scream as a terrible, hungry power awakened and ripped itself
free. Last night, she had smelled distant blood and terror on
the western wind. Yes, the Eight Thunders Master would
welcome such a battle. It was her way.
“Revered teacher, what do we do?” the acolyte asked.
He, too, understood the gravity of the battle that must take
place.
“Do?” Tieh Ju echoed. “We watch. We learn the way
these events must follow. And then, when the time is right
— we do nothing, and thereby confound our enemies.”
The acolyte bowed again, comforted by the familiar
wisdom of their philosophy. He murmured formalities until
she dismissed him, and he hurried off to spread the news.
In the time of her meditation, however, the Iron Chry-
santhemum practiced calling up the demonic form and powers
of her lower soul. In the Universal Way that she followed,
every action had its reaction; everything balanced in the end.
Nevertheless, she did not want the end to be hers.…
APPENDIX:
THE WEEK OF
NIGHTMARE
There will come a time,
when the heads of three Princes
will watch the burning of the dawn
on a pillar of white.
— “The Awakening of the Dark Father,”
The Book of Nod
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
116
* * *
The photos of men and women dropped to the floor as
the test subject shot to her feet, staring at nothing. “Get Dr.
Netchurch! Now!” Dr. Reage hissed to the orderly. Thank God
she had the video camera ready.
“He split the mountain!” the woman shrieked. “The king
split the mountain! He calls the princes and princesses. They
run, but he sends his nightmares to fetch them!”
Dr. Reage held the woman’s shoulders, heedless of her
extended fangs. “Who is the king?” the psychologist demanded.
“Describe the king!” The younger woman only babbled in a
language Dr. Reage could not identify.
* * *
Chou Li and his four companions reclined on silken cushions
and admired the way the temple, the willow and the lanterns
reflected in the pool. He had just made a lotus bud and now it
was Shangguan’s turn. The grinning monkey-man recited his
short poem, and the lotus bud opened to reveal a little toad made
entirely of emerald-green jade. The frog blinked its stone eyes
and trilled the last line of Shangguan’s poem. Everyone languidly
applauded Shangguan’s creation.
Then the frog exploded. Blood from a wound opened by a
shard of jade trickled into Chou Li’s eye. The willow trees twisted,
cracked and screamed. The lotus blossoms thrashed on their stems,
and the white and golden carp leaped from the water to flop on
the temple floor. The grassy earth itself heaved. The five ran for
their unlives, as their favorite temple collapsed upon itself.
* * *
At the Western State Hospital, doctors, nurses and orderlies
rushed from ward to ward, hurriedly restraining the patients. As
one orderly held down a shrieking patient, another tightened
the straps around him. Dr. Melliot reviewed the patient’s chart:
John Riddick, acute paranoid disorder, last medication three
hours ago. As the doctor injected Riddick with the tranquilizer,
the patient stopped struggling.
“The king woke up,” he calmly said. “He woke up hungry,
doctor. Now he’s eating all his children and his grandchildren.
They don’t like it, but they can’t escape his dreams.” He peered
anxiously at the doctor and the orderlies. “You’re not hungry,
are you? ’Cause if you are…” he paused dramatically, “I’m not
family.”
Dr. Melliot moved to the next room in the ward. Jane
Kellner, catatonic schizophrenia, passive type. She sat on her
bed, one arm stiffly out to her side. At least she was quiet. As
he inspected her, however, she spoke. “The king walks with his
nightmares. They call his children to him”
She must have heard Mr. Riddick. Of course, that was it.
Dr. Melliot continued on his rounds. These poor souls were
intensely suggestible, in a morbid, self-torturing way. No doubt,
he thought, many other patients would rave about kings and
cannibalism.
They did not disappoint him.
BATTLE OF NIGHTMARES
Schiavelli dropped the microprobe in surprise when his
palmtop sounded the alarm. For 0.43 seconds, he cursed himself
for his reflexive panic, then for 0.28 seconds he cursed himself for
his own irritation. Then he recognized the potential for infinite
regress in this self-chiding and banished it. Be steel, he told himself.
As he keyed off the alarm, he once more felt calm and precise.
At the touch of a button, his palmtop projected a rapid
series of satellite photos, MANAR telemetry data, maps and
graphs onto the air. Schiavelli felt his mind slip into overdrive,
correlating the anomalous readings with information gleaned over
the past year from around the world, until his intuition reached
a conclusion. The incident unfolding in Bangladesh was much
worse than the computer analysis indicated. His little project
would have to wait. Schiavelli keyed a complex sequence on his
handheld computer. He walked around the corner and leaped
into the back seat of a gray American sedan that hadn’t been
there mere moments earlier.
* * *
“The University faculty identified the language,” Dr.
Netchurch said to Dr. Reage. “It’s Sanskrit.” The vampire
scientist paced back and forth, tapping his pencil in his hands.
“Sanskrit! Now they’re speaking in tongues!” With a savage twist
of his hands he splintered the pencil into splinters and threw the
remains into the wastebasket.
The psychologist watched her domitor carefully. She sel-
dom saw Dr. Netchurch so agitated. Any frustration now could
provoke a frenzy, and she could not bear the thought of his
magnificent intellect overthrown by the Beast. As the scientist
paced and rifled the transcripts of the seers’ ravings, she selected
a bottle from the refrigerator, filled a beaker with the contents,
and transferred the beaker to the microwave oven.
“Ten heads… ten arms… cuts off his own heads one by one
and eats them…” Dr. Netchurch muttered. As the microwave
beeped, he stopped and sniffed. He snatched the beaker of
reheated blood and threw it back like a shot of bourbon. “Ah!”
He frowned. “Was that…?”
“The blood with the tranquilizer, yes,” Dr. Reage said. “Sir,
you need it. You’ve been… irritable.”
“Yes. Yes, I have. Thank you.”
“So have all the other Kindred. The ones who aren’t rav-
ing.”
Dr. Netchurch stopped in mid-pace. “All of them?”
“All of them. The stress mannerisms are unmistakable.”
Netchurch pondered. “Give each of them 10 milligrams
of Librium in blood solution,” he said. “And sodium pentathol
in a serum drip for the seers.” He whipped off his wire-rimmed
glasses. “Let’s get to the bottom of this, doctor!”
* * *
Johnny Jumpup spun the girl from one arm to the other
as the big band music played behind him. Sometimes, he saw
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
117
a ghostly echo of the musicians around the CD player, which
perched incongruously on his lord’s throne. His lordship affected
to scorn “swing” and said he permitted these dances only out of
sheer magnanimity — but Johnny had seen Cassidan’s foot tapping
to the beat often enough! Now, however, Johnny only had eyes
for the black-haired beauty who swung on his arm about the hall.
He beat a quick tattoo in counterpoint to the music out of sheer
high spirits: He knew from Aronwy’s flushed cheeks and bright
eyes that he’d jump her bones later that night. Commoner, ha!
He’d show her there was nothing common about him!
Even the fire in the hearth seemed to join the dance by
leaping and flickering to the beat. To mortal eyes, Cassidan’s
court was just a shabby, rented hall decorated with old movie
posters and wedged between a pawnshop and a mini-mart.
Only the changelings, or mortals under their spell, could see the
marble floor, the tapestries, the golden palm-tree columns with
the living crystal birds nesting among the leaves.… Nor could
mortals see the Good Folk in their true forms. They could not
see the pointed ears and piquantly upswept brows of Aronwy, or
Johnny’s horns and hooves. To them, his open, brocaded shirt
was just polyester from K-Mart. The fire itself would look like
nothing but a chafing dish.
Suddenly, the flame roared up, darkening to a bloody hue as it
split and coiled around itself. For a moment, two figures struggled
among the flames — a man (or at least something more or less of
human shape) and an enormous cat rearing up on its hind legs.
Jets of flame lashed out at random, smashing the refreshment
table and setting the tapestries on fire.
Everyone ran for the door to the street. Johnny grabbed
Aronwy around the waist. With an “Alley—oop!” Johnny
bounced into an aerial somersault, up and over the other revelers,
Aronwy in his arms. Just as the last changeling reached the street,
a great puff of fire blasted through the roof of the hall.
“Are you all right?” Johnny asked his companion.
“I think so,” she replied
“Demon!” shouted the pamphleteer on the corner a few yards
away. Johnny saw him there daily, shoving his tracts in the faces
of passers-by, exhorting them to let Jesus into their hearts. He
harangued the changelings every time they had a dance, and he
never saw a hint of their true selves. Now, however, Johnny saw
the man brandish his cheap wooden cross at—at him?
“Avaunt thee, Satan, and thy harlot with thee!” the pamphleteer
roared. Light blazed around the cross. Reeking flames burst around
Johnny. He leaped away from the hellfire, frantically slapping
at his scorched legs. Mundanes couldn’t do this! Johnny ran. At
least Aronwy ran with him. The other changelings scattered
too, lashed by the street preacher’s fury. Behind them, cries of
joy, surprise and terror arose as other mortals found their dreams
coming true — and their nightmares.…
* * *
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
118
Frater Siderius pounded the table, making the scattered
charts, pens and protractors jump. “Didn’t I tell you?” he crowed.
“Didn’t I say this would happen in 1999?”
“You said that some major disruption would happen in 1999.
Just like you predicted a world-shaking catastrophe in 1979.”
Ashmole spoke skeptically, but he bent to look at the crystal ball
again. The orb rocked slightly on its rune-struck silver plate, in
mild sympathy to the violence it showed. Ashmole saw dense,
churning clouds, intermittently lit with both mundane lightning
and the stranger discharges of supernatural force.
Siderius drew himself up to his full five feet. “I predicted a
drastic change in 1979,” he said. “And I stand by that prediction.”
He tapped one of his astrolabes. “When Pluto, terrible planet
of entropy and apocalypse, passed within the orbit of mystic
Neptune, planet of the infinite and indefinite, a door opened and
something new entered. Not a thing or being, necessarily, but a
new possibility — the unimaginable become real.” He snorted.
“Great God, man, I confirmed my astrological findings with both
geomancy and the Holy Qabala. How can you doubt the findings
of three precise sciences? It is not my fault that the order neglected
to discover what new phenomenon entered the world.”
Siderius tapped the other astrolabe. “Now, with Pluto ap-
proaching Neptune again — outbound this time — the door has
opened again. You can see the results!” He drew Ashmole to the
window and pointed an accusing finger at the brilliant, red star
burning in the sky. “Something else has entered. Something you
cannot ignore.” Then Siderius bit his lip, his ebullient mood
passing in an instant. He, too, looked at the crystal ball again.
“And I think that something equally great and powerful is about
to leave reality. But not without a fight.”
* * *
“The dragon rises, the crane falls and the tiger circles ’round,”
Wendy murmured.
“They strike at the king’s nightmares,” said another vam-
pire.
“The nightmares strike back,” added a third.
“Does this make any sense to you?” one ghoul orderly whis-
pered to another. Dr. Netchurch shushed them both.
* * *
“Hang on!” Stepperfellt shouted — quite unnecessarily, for
all his passengers had grabbed the sides or mast of his skiff as soon
as the wave struck. Wave after greasy black wave crashed over
the little boat, sending it spinning. The Byway they followed
appeared to break into spinning whirlpools, a gibbering face at
the center of each one.
“What! Is! That!” one of his passengers shouted.
“It’s a storm, stupid,” Stepperfellt muttered. “That’s why they
call this the Tempest.” Then he saw what his passenger meant.
Four enormous, transparent figures fought above the Sunless
Sea and sent waves of turbulence in all directions. One looked
more or less human… but no human ever had such long talons,
or such a distended mouth full of fangs. The other three figures
flickered and shifted. One moment they looked human, the
next they were a dragon, a tiger and some sort of bird — a stork,
maybe? — and a moment later they took the form of grotesque,
fantastic demons. The dragon and tiger clawed at the man, who
lashed out at them both with his enormous talons. Then the bird
swooped in, beat at the man’s head with its wings, and a boom
of thunder rolled across the sea.
Stepperfellt wrestled with the rudder as he tried to turn
the skiff. A flash of brilliant light distracted him; the man-tiger
held a javelin of white flame and hurled it at the central figure.
An enormous, black shield appeared on the man’s arm and the
burning javelin exploded against the shield. Even from so far
away, Stepperfellt could feel the heat.
Shitshitshitshitshit! If only… there. Stepperfellt forced the skiff
about. Now, each wave pushed it farther from the battle. One
of the whirlpools rose from the sea. At the spout’s tip, a patch
of gray, wavering light appeared. Stepperfellt wrestled the skiff
through the heaving sea by a mixture of skill and will. Then there
was no more steering, only hanging on as the vortex swept up
the little boat, around and through. The skiff vanished from the
storm-tossed sea and erupted from a churning black pool in the
middle of a dead, decaying forest.
Stepperfellt and his passengers picked themselves up.
“Owoo, who said that death was an end to pain?” one of them
complained.
“Never mind that,” Stepperfellt replied. “We need to find
shelter. That storm will break through in force pretty soon. When
it’s over…” Stepperfellt sighed. “We find out where we are.”
* * *
Dr. Melliot massaged his neck as the orderlies wrestled Mr.
Riddick back into bed and strapped him down. Damn, this time
the man had tried to bite him. “Let me finish!” Riddick shouted.
Melliot glared at the wall and Riddick’s interrupted finger paint-
ing in his own blood and feces: Four stick-figure men with huge,
fanged mouths where their heads should be, and bloody swirls
and clouds around them.
Riddick definitely needed heavier sedation… he and half
the ward.
* * *
“Code Ragnarok. This is not a drill. Repeat, Code Ragnarok.
This is not a drill.” The relays carried his voice around the world
and beyond, to a hundred other installations, where hundreds of
men and women dropped whatever they were doing and hurried
to new posts. “Analysis indicates multiple presences, force eight
to 10 at the center of the disturbance. Monitor all locations for
collateral activity.”
Next to Schiavelli, another man and a woman gave their
own commands.” Activate solettas two through five,” the woman
said. A thousand miles above the Earth, four refrigerator-sized,
jet-black cylinders split and slowly unfolded into silver-mirrored
daisies, each a mile across. At her further commands, the great
mirrors turned to face the sun, bouncing the light down to night-
shrouded Bangladesh.
The other man spoke into his own microphone. “We need
the Storm Chasers in there now to cut the cloud cover. Use all
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
119
available armaments, ground and airborne, to protect them.” A
pause. “That’s right, this is a suicide mission.”
In front of the three, their operating protocols appeared on
a computer screen.
>>CODE: RAGNAROK
>>OPERATIONS BUDGET: UNLIMITED
>>PERMISSIBLE WEAPONS: UNLIMITED
>>PERMISSIBLE CASUALTIES:
>>>LOCAL INHABITANTS: 100%
>>>ASSOCIATE PERSONNEL: 100%
>>>ENLIGHTENED OPERATIVES: 100%
Schiavelli typed access codes at his keyboard. A laser scanned
his fingerprints and retinal patterns. A microphone confirmed
his voiceprint.
Code Ragnarok. A threat to the entire world. If the weather-
shapers could not pierce the typhoon, Schiavelli had another way
to bring sunlight to Bangladesh and the things that battled in the
storm. He typed more codes and, 600 miles above the Earth, three
more jet-black satellites unfolded to reveal racks of missiles.
A few tens of thousands of lives to save six billion lives now and
countless billions to come, he told himself. A rational transaction.
* * *
The cops wrestled the screaming woman into the jail cell.
“Damn, how does she keep it up?” one complained.
“Drugs, probably.” The other cop shrugged. “You know.
Fucking angel dust. Bad trip or something.”
“Hey, don’t leave no crazy bitch in here with me!” the cell’s
other resident called. He was a purse-snatcher arrested earlier
that night. “I’m tellin’ my lawyer about this!”
The cops ignored him. “So who is she, anyway?” the desk
sergeant asked.
“Let’s see,” the first cop replied. He flipped through the ar-
rest report. “Driver’s license says she’s V. Harriet Bakos, lately a
resident of California. She’s a long way from home.”
At that moment, the woman stopped screaming and began
babbling. “Oh God, mother Mary, they’re ripping up the sky,
they’re ripping up the ground! The dead call to the dead!” She
began chanting, “Dragons and tigers and cranes! Dragons and
tigers and cranes, oh my god!” swinging her long, lank brown
hair in time to her words.
“See what I mean?” the second cop said, as he poured a cup
of coffee. “Drugs.”
Then the purse-snatcher began screaming. All the cops
turned and saw the tiger walk out of the jail cell, passing through
the bars like a ghost. All the cops drew their guns. Two of them
fired. The tiger vanished, while the purse-snatcher moaned a
wet, bubbling moan and fell to the floor, blood quickly stain-
ing his shirt. A crack of thunder rolled through the precinct
house, and the cops felt a powerful wind swirl around them, yet
somehow leave the papers on their desks undisturbed. It began
to rain in the cell.
The second cop shakily lifted his Styrofoam cup of coffee to
his lips — then threw it away with a cry of disgust at the worms
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
120
wriggling in it. When it splashed against the wall, however, it held
no worms. His partner did not notice: Having suddenly realized
that he was stark naked, he was too busy hiding behind his desk.
The other officers soon found preoccupations of their own.
* * *
Lt. Roderick Crowe wished his scouts would return. He
wished he was in his bomber again, high above the typhoon,
instead of soaking and shivering underneath it. While he was
at it, he wished the storm would just go away, and take with
it whatever horror had set his spirit watchers screaming even
thousands of miles away.
As if these poor people don’t have enough problems, he thought.
Between the rain and the storm surge, half of Bangladesh must
be underwater. Thousands would die, even without a rampage
of the goddamn Leeches.
His air-spirit scouts appeared before him in little puffs of mist.
Metal birds attack the clouds! Bad! one spirit said. Storm coming,
exclaimed another of the excitable elementals. Go home? Home
come here?
Crowe soon learned what the spirit meant. A rippling
green and yellow glow blossomed in the distance to shine faintly
through the storm. He sniffed and even through the storm he
could smell the sharp scent of overflowing life. Home come here!
the little elemental announced. An eruption of the spirit world
into this one? The shaman had thought he’d never live to see
such a thing. His heart rose. The spirits would surely aid his pack
against the deathly thing within the storm.
Then his hackles rose, and he growled. Streaks of black shot
through the storm. They reminded him somehow of black ice
on a road, eager to claim the life of a careless driver. Something
tapped him on the shoulder and fell into the streaming mud. A
finger bone? He and his packmates stared at the rain of bones.
The storm of life and death surged outward and swept over
the small group of warriors.
* * *
“Chains of water,” Kellner said in her usual dull tone. She
no longer strained against the straps. “Water holds him. That’s
why they called the storm, you see, Doctor?” Melliot ignored
her words and jabbed her with the sedative. Dammit, he’d get
this ward quiet!
* * *
Mujibur knelt with his family in the upper floor of the
house at the outskirts of Khulna. Three other families knelt as
well. Water six feet deep covered the ground floor. Together,
they prayed that the gods would cool his wrath and let them
live through the storm. The wail and roar of the typhoon almost
masked the sound of the building next door collapsing into the
flood. Mujibur knew his own shanty must be long gone.
Three of the children cried, and their mothers could not
comfort them. “There are ghosts out there,” one little girl sobbed.
Her mother shushed her, telling her that it was just the wind. For
a moment, Mujibur thought he saw a snarling face push from a
corner of the room — no, of course it was just a trick of the light
from their single, flickering oil lamp.
“Papa, will we die?” Mujibur’s youngest son asked for the
tenth or eleventh time that night. Mujibur gritted his teeth.
Wouldn’t the brat stop? Suddenly Mujibur felt a burning rage
slide into his soul. “Yes!” he snapped. “We’re all going to die!”
He snatched the handle of a frying pan from the bundle of his
family’s meager possessions beside him. He’d spank the child
with it just once to shut him up.…
* * *
When Cyprian entered, he found two cops dead and the
rest in hysterics. One held his gun on the young woman in the
jail cell and screamed at her to stop it. While he screamed, one
of his teeth tensed and snapped. Several others had broken
already. Cyprian said, “Attend me,” in a low but penetrating
voice. The cops all looked at him. “I require assistance.” Several
of the cops hurriedly straightened their uniforms. “That’s right,”
the gray-haired man continued. “Decorum. S.O.P. Do it by the
book.” One man slowly walked to his desk and sat down. Under
the newcomer’s gaze, the other police drifted back to their posts
— those who could, at least.
“Very good. Now, unlock the cell and bring the woman to
me.” One of the cops obeyed slowly, walking through a swirl of
ghostly snakes. Cyprian held the woman’s head between his pale
hands and forced her blind gaze to meet his eyes.
“Sleep,” he commanded, “And do not dream. Sleep.” The
young woman’s eyelids fluttered and closed. She sagged into the
stranger’s arms. The snakes and other phantoms vanished. He laid
her on a desk. Cyprian addressed the police again. “Thank you.
Now clean this place up. When you finish, you will not remember
her, or any of this.” He inspected the bodies of the purse-snatcher
and the two dead cops, licked his lips, then shook himself slightly.
Producing a handkerchief, he carefully took the gun of one of the
dead cops and pressed it into the purse-snatcher’s hand.
At Cyprian’s bidding, the cops lined up before him. One
by one, he stared into their eyes and told them, “The criminal
grabbed the gun and started shooting. Of course you had to shoot
back.” Each cop nodded, then returned to his desk.
Once he finished, Cyprian hoisted the girl like a sack of flour
and carried her from the police station to his Lincoln Continental.
He sat beside her in the back seat. “Home,” he told the driver, and
sighed. Protecting the Masquerade took more effort every year.
Why do I bother? he wondered. He looked at the young woman
and hoped he could find a reason not to kill her.
* * *
Lars plunged his massive blade into the throat of the last of
the scrofulous, bird-headed monsters. As the battle-fever faded,
the sodden werewolves looked around them. They had arrived
too late to save the men and women in the orange jumpsuits.
Broken guns like none Crowe had ever seen lay in the mud. In
the center of the battleground sat a plastic drum with a dish
antenna on top and a few dials and meters on the side, secured
by cables staked to the ground. Around it hung the sharp, cold
smell of stasis and logic, an odor smelled with the soul.
One of the fallen men groaned softly. The warriors crowded
around him. Everyone’s ears flattened in shock as they saw the
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
121
flesh melted in rivulets across the man’s eyes. “Medic!” Crowe
shouted. Old habits die hard. The man feebly stirred.
“Captain?” he croaked. “Secondary… neutralized… Unit
positioned… Send… planes.” He coughed. “We did it, Captain.
We… did it.…”
Crowe felt the man’s pulse. He would not live long. The
shaman felt the man’s soul stir, preparing to leave its vessel of
flesh. A powerful soul, one that could force order on the world
by will alone.
A werewolf hefted one of the strange rifles and raised it
overhead, ready to smash the dish antenna with its butt. “No!”
the shaman commanded. “Leave it alone!”
“You know what these people are. They want us dead, sir!
Two years ago, some of them killed my cousin!”
“I said, leave it alone,” Crowe growled. “They aren’t our
problem. Not now, at least. And if these things attacked them”
— he kicked one of the rapidly decomposing corpses of the
bird-headed beasts — “They can’t be all bad. I have a feeling
this machine’s meant to contain the damage, somehow, or to
harm whatever monster we came here to kill. We let it be!” The
two werewolves glared at each other for several seconds, but the
younger one quickly backed down.
“I still don’t like it,” he muttered.
“You don’t have to,” Crowe snapped. “Now, we still haven’t
seen what’s causing all this. Move out!”
FINAL DEATH
Tieh Ju and Chou Li watched the supernatural storm from
a mile away. The mundane storm hardly bothered them.
“It is the Yomi World,” Tieh Ju explained to the curious
snake-man. “Hell on Earth. If nothing contains it soon, it will
cover the world. In opening doors to both the Yin and Yang
Worlds, the Bodhisattvas may have acted imprudently.”
Around them, the Iron Chrysanthemum’s acolytes swatted
away the ghosts and demons. More and more, however, she felt
her attention drawn to the thick, churning clouds that drenched
her and her students. Something more than the battle disturbed
those clouds. She extended her subtle senses and felt the aircraft
moving above the clouds, pushing at them with magical breath.
The Five Metal Dragons. Of course they would be here. She calmed
her mind and felt the Way whisper in her soul. Too soon, it said.
She turned to the serpent-man and asked, “Honored sir, do you
believe you could thicken the clouds?”
Chou Li gave her a puzzled look. “They seem thick enough…
Ah! They do seek to part! How curious.” He bowed. “I will do my
poor best, revered ancient, in memory of past favors to my kind.”
The serpent-man concentrated, then staggered. “So strong…”
he whispered. “A mighty force pushes against the storm. I do not
know how long I can do this.”
“I will help you,” the Iron Chrysanthemum said. She deftly slit
open her palms with her lacquered fingernails and laid her hands
on the snake-man’s shoulders. Immediately, he straightened.
“You honor me, revered ancient,” he said. “I will not fail
you.”
* * *
“Something’s fighting us!” Schiavelli heard the pilot say.
“Something must be maintaining the typhoon.” Schiavelli swal-
lowed hard. Now that the moment neared, he did not feel like a
hardened, precision instrument. He reminded himself that in all
likelihood the masses near the battlefield were all dead already.
He typed at his keyboard again, spoke words into the microphone.
Thousands of miles away, a satellite received its instructions and
took aim. Rocket after rocket soundlessly erupted, hurtling down
toward Bangladesh like falling stars.
* * *
Crowe prayed as he fought. An elephant-eared demon had
slain two members of his pack even as they killed it. Now, they
fought ghosts who whispered dreadful promises and mockeries,
arousing both his rage and his terror. Sometimes, he could slash
them with his claws or crush one in his fangs before it faded away
but for every one he — killed? — another took its place. He called
on every spirit who had ever helped him or anyone he knew and
begged for someone to save his comrades, if not himself.
An incredible flash of light bleached the world into stark
black and white. To his amazement, Crowe felt the blast with
his spiritual sense as well. It felt like the aura around the sacred
places of his kind. Every one of the phantoms vanished in the
blue-white glare. Then, a roar like a falling mountain hammered
against the shaman. In a moment, his dazzled eyesight cleared. A
hot new wind blew, prickling with unholy radiation. No, it couldn’t
be… Another bomb exploded a few miles to his left. Nukes? Spirit
nukes? Jesus H. Christ, now I’ve seen everything!
The next bomb fell very close to him. He only felt a mo-
ment of dislocation as his body vaporized, and then his thoughts
passed into history.
* * *
All five of the seers screamed, “He’s burning! He’s burning!
The sun fell from the sky and he’s burning!” Dr. Reage held the
video camera while Dr. Netchurch struggled to paste the EEG’s
electrodes to Wendy’s forehead. The EEG had never worked
on a vampire before, but with vampires like these you never
knew.…
* * *
Awake but unseeing, the woman lay on the couch. Two
burly ghouls held her down. Cyprian sat wearily in an armchair
beside her. The sun had been up for hours; he wanted desperately
to sleep, but the terrible dreams kept waking him up again. That
he could not remember the content of the nightmares frustrated
him even more. He might as well do something.
He glared at the young woman and demanded, “What is
your name?”
“V. Harriet Bakos,” the woman replied. “Vampiresa Harriet
Bakos.” Vampiresa? Parents these days.…
“How old are you… Harriet?”
“I’m almost 20.”
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
122
“Where do you live, Harriet?”
“Trailer park….”
So far, so good. “What are these dreams you have, Harriet?
How do you make other people see them?”
Harriet struggled against the strong hands of the ghouls.
“All dead! The three masters, all dead when the stars fell!” Her
eyes shot open. The room brightened as five balls of terrible
white light shone above her and rose into miniature mushroom
clouds. Cyprian howled as his flesh blistered, and he ran from the
room. The ghouls dithered for a few moments between orders
and emotion, then hurried after their master.
Harriet swung to her feet and staggered out another door.
Eventually, she found a way out of the house.
* * *
The acolytes howled and ran as the fierce white light seared
their flesh, but the Iron Chrysanthemum stood her ground. Only
two of the bombs actually fell close enough for their light to burn
her. Chou Li stayed beside her, holding the clouds in the grip of
his will. The whirlwinds of bones, blood and gore vanished as
pillars of fire rose to pierce the clouds.
“A little longer,” Tieh Ju whispered to the snake-man.
“Just a little longer.” The Way burned in her long-dead heart
as the universe moved to restore its balance. The time to stop
acting hurried closer, closer. She bit her own cheek and sprayed
a mouthful of her blood into the wind.
Minutes later, a vaguely human figure staggered toward her
through the rain. She guessed it might be male but could not
be sure. Flakes of black ash covered the remains of its naked,
shriveled body. One arm hung as a stump of tattered meat.
Hallucinations of pain radiated from it, like the vibrating, inner
light of migraine. It had survived the wrath of three Bodhisattvas
and a bath of nuclear fire. Tieh Ju knew that, even weakened as
it was, she could not fight it. If she tried, it would replenish its
strength on her chi.
Although the thing had no eyes, only sockets oozing black
blood, it turned to face the pair. Its fanged jaws worked, and it
rasped out, “Blood. Feed. Hunger.” It spoke Sanskrit, the ancient
tongue of India. The Iron Chrysanthemum knew the language
moderately well. She released Chou Li’s shoulders and nodded
to him. The snake-man slumped to the ground.
Tieh Ju bowed to the swaying figure. “Good night to you,
brother of Zao-Lat,” she said. “Or perhaps — good morning? In
any case, goodbye.” As the charred figure leaped at her, she sank
into the ground. The figure hissed and turned to the snake-man.
Chou Li consigned his own soul to Heaven…
…And, released from Chou Li’s power, the clouds rolled
apart from horizon to horizon. A line of four suns spanned the
sky. The figure screamed as it caught fire in the quadrupled
sunlight. Chou Li thought that the entire world must hear that
shrill, inhuman scream. The thing ran only a few paces, then
fell. A minute later, nothing remained but a sticky ash, already
dissolving into the mud.
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
123
AFTERMATH
Cyprian ripped the gate off its hinges and stomped into the
trailer park, his ghouls trotting behind him. Damn the Masquer-
ade anyway! If he didn’t get some information here, after all he’d
been through, he’d break some necks. The phone book indicated
the Bakos family lived here. Looking around, he saw a variety of
trailers and mobile homes.
Where were the people? Why were no lights on? Cyprian
stopped. Blood. A day old at least, but no vampire would mistake
that smell. He found the first body soon after.
Black paint covered the windows of the Bakos trailer. Odd,
for humans. He sent one of his ghouls in first. “Two dead, sir,”
the ghoul reported. Then Cyprian entered.
The swarthy, sharp features of the dead woman on the floor
explained the mystery. Gypsies, of course. She must have served
a vampire, one of the wandering Gangrel or Ravnos — and
that lump of crumbling carrion must be the vampire. Cyprian
sneered. He’d heard tell of some vampires — thin-blooded, re-
bellious childer — who tried to return to their mortal families.
Supposedly, the Gangrel and Ravnos stayed with their mortal
Gypsy relations.
Gangrel or… Ravnos. He remembered the phantoms and
all-too-real nightmares that had swirled around the girl, and the
illusion-casting power of the Ravnos clan. What was she?
As he walked back to his car and pondered this disturbing
question, a berserk vampire attacked him. It could not speak, only
shriek and howl its rage. The incendiary rounds in his guards’
pistols made short work of it.
Well, that explained the deaths. Undoubtedly, one of the
Gypsies’ vampire kin had fallen to the Beast and attacked them,
killing the other vampire. That was one loose end tied up, at
least. Now, if only he could find Harriet again. Cyprian saw no
way around it. Whatever the freakish girl was, she had to die. He
instructed one of his ghouls to stay behind and watch for her.
* * *
Dr. Melliot tossed back his shot of whiskey and slurped at
his beer. Thank God he’d persuaded the director to send him to
this convention. The last week made him long for the good old
days of electroshock and lobotomy.
“—and all through the ward, patients babbling about a
cannibal king and wild animals. I swear, every one of the damn
loonies caught it.” Melliot’s head whipped around toward the
conversation a few seats away along the bar.
“Mine acted up too. They went on and on about a rip in
the world letting in ghosts and demons. Heh, anybody know if
there was a full moon last week?”
Melliot rose and walked to the other psychiatrists. Elaborately
casual, he asked, “The wild animals — were they a tiger, a dragon
and some sort of bird?”
The psychiatrists looked back and forth at each other. Then,
they turned to the bar, ordered fresh drinks and pointedly talked
about the bartender’s breasts.
* * *
The portly, robed and hooded figure whispered a word and
traced a series of curves on the great iron door, deactivating the
last of the traps. He thrust the key into the lock, turned it three
times, and pushed the door open. Then, he turned to his six
companions.
“So, who wants to tell him?” he said. The six shuffled and
looked at the walls or at their feet.
“Oh, you tell him, Etrius,” the woman replied. “We all know
he likes you best.”
Etrius squared his shoulders and slowly walked to the massive
stone coffin in the middle of the chamber. He pushed aside the
lid of the master’s tomb, then stopped. The other six froze as well.
There, in the chamber 500 feet below the streets of Vienna, they
heard a muffled coughing sound from inside the sepulcher, and a
gout of blood vomited forth, plashing against the ceiling.
Etrius stepped back. “I think he already knows,” he whispered.
Together, the seven shut the doors, locked them and began the
long walk back to the surface.
* * *
Schiavelli allowed himself a moment of quiet pride in him-
self and his squad. The symposium had judged the Bangladesh
operation a complete success. The bombs had destroyed all the
problems afflicting south-central Bangladesh.
Investigations would continue as to whether the bombs
themselves had done the trick, or whether the creatures’ own
struggles had done this. In any case, the world was saved for
another day, and the bomb fully vindicated.
The death toll among the masses was regrettable, of course,
with an estimated 1.3 million casualties. Most of these, the report
said, were caused by the vampires and other beasts rampag-
ing through the region (Schiavelli skipped over the statistical
breakdown of deaths by direct assault, induced homicidal or
suicidal mania, paraphysical contagion or collateral damage). The
typhoon caused an estimated 115,600 deaths by purely natural
means as it flooded Bangladesh. As they were designed to do, the
bomb airbursts caused serious property damage and death only in
the immediate vicinity of the blast, while still slaughtering the
supernatural creatures many kilometers distant. Only 60,800
Bangladeshis had died from the explosions and radiation.
Shielding the masses from knowledge of the battle would
be difficult but not impossible if the group used its resources ef-
ficiently. Fortunately, Bangladesh had poor record-keeping and
communications. The deaths from the typhoon would conceal
the deaths from other causes. Enlightened operatives would
quickly remove all physical evidence of unnatural death and
adjust memories where necessary. Media operatives would ensure
that no one in the rest of the world paid much attention. The
cleanup would take no more than a month.
* * *
Prince Marcus Vitel of Washington, D.C., addressed his fel-
lows at a rare, secret conclave. “We have laid out all the evidence
available to each of us: the faked weather satellite photos of the
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
124
typhoon; the massacred villages in eastern India, Bangladesh and
Burma; the reported exsanguination of the bodies; the destruction
of all the Kindred in Calcutta; and the madness that led Ravnos
throughout the world to attack each other. I can see only one
explanation for these events.”
“A Methuselah?” Queen Anne asked.
“Methuselahs wouldn’t make the whole clan go mad,”
Francois Villon objected.
“Correct,” Vitel said crisply. “If tradition is to be believed,
only one sort of vampire can send its power throughout the en-
tire world. Just as all the Ravnos, scattered across at least three
continents, have only one thing in common.”
“An Antediluvian,” Anne said hollowly. “Jesus, Mary and
Joseph, it has to be their founder!”
“But — they must all be extinct,” Mustafa of Istanbul said.
“My sire always swore that they were real and ruled us all, and
he never told me the truth about anything.”
“There’s always a first time,” Guilbeau of the Riviera said
with a shrug.
“So they exist. So one woke up. What do we do about it?”
the Prince of Amsterdam asked.
“Do?” Rome laughed. “What do you ‘do’ about the sun-
rise?”
Vitel slammed his fist against the table. “That’s enough,”
he said. “I will not roll over and bare my throat to anyone, not
to Caine himself. Back in the Anarch Revolution, the Tzimisce
and Lasombra supposedly destroyed their Antediluvians. If they
could do it, so can we.”
The princes sat silently for a long moment. Villon eyed Vitel.
“Never mind that,” Rome finally said. “What do we tell the
other Kindred? ‘This concludes the Elysium. Oh, by the way, the
Antediluvians are real and waking up. First item on the agenda
for the next meeting will be preparing for the end of the world.’
I think not! We’d have a riot!”
“We say nothing,” Vitel replied. “We tell only our primogen,
other princes we can trust and the justicars. Revealing the truth
to our lessers would only frighten them. What’s worse, the news
would make the Sabbat seem more credible.
“We maintain our authority only to the extent that we are
feared,” Vitel concluded. “If our childer fear the Antediluvians
more than they fear us, they will cease to obey. Bid your sheriffs and
scourges to crack down harder than before. We will have order!
“And while we distract the childer with purges, we will seek
ways to kill our progenitors… and build impregnable shelters for
ourselves. If worse comes to worst, we throw our childer to the
Ancients’ fangs and hope that satisfies their hunger.” Vitel smiled.
“I prepared for a nuclear war. Could Gehenna be worse?”
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
125
If any of the other princes thought so, they found it prudent
not to answer, except for Villon, who whispered, “Again?”
* * *
In a daze, Harriet wandered the streets. She was aware of
nothing but a terrible sense of desolation. She had seen bombs,
she had seen four suns in the sky — then she’d heard a scream
that went on and on, echoing through her soul. She felt as if
something had broken within her; as if she had lost something
precious without ever knowing what it was, and she wanted to
reclaim it.
She stood before the trailer where her parents dwelled. The
door hung open. She went inside. Her mother lay dead, a bloating
corpse. Her father… could that scattering of ash be her father?
Harriet lurched from the trailer. Now she had a grief she
could name; it pushed aside the nameless grief and the memory of
the scream. She could recognize the world again. She recognized
that she sat next to another dead body, a fresh one. Vaguely, she
remembered seeing him before, in a… house? Yes, he had held
her arms while she had struggled and raved. His gun lay on the
ground nearby. When she had finished throwing up, Harriet
cried. When she finished crying, she checked the gun. The clip
was empty, but she took it anyway. Perhaps she could pawn it for
enough money to buy a bus ticket to another town. Whoever or
whatever killed her parents, she knew she was not safe in this city
anymore. If nothing else, the police would want to talk to her,
and Harriet very much did not want to talk to them.
She stared up at the night sky, and her prayer for her par-
ents froze on her lips. A glittering, red star drew her gaze. As she
watched, it pulsed brighter and brighter
“This is your fault!” she shouted at it. “You did this!” She
knew, with absolute, inexplicable certainty, that the star was evil
and that it would destroy the world.
* * *
Chou Li sat waiting for three days and nights where Tieh Ju
had sunk into the ground. When she did not emerge, he burned
an offering of incense to her soul and began the long journey back
to China. He had a temple to rebuild. He did not care whether
the new temple would last a thousand years or only a night; the
prospect of building it filled him with purpose enough.
WHAT HAPPENED?
Okay, no more veiled hints and contradictory rumors. This is
the proverbial it: The straight dope, the truth about a great event
in the contemporary World of Darkness.
Storytellers, we’ve avoided setting a specific date for the Week
of Nightmare to allow you to work it into your chronicles as you
see fit. Those of you wishing to adhere to Vampire’s canonical
timeline and setting are encouraged to begin implementing these
events immediately — July 1999 — as future game supplements
will certainly take these events into account.
GEHENNA BEGINS EARLY
Here’s what happened. The Ravnos clan originally came from
India, where it inspired many legends of illusion-casting demons
and deadly trickster-vampires. The Ravnos who came west with
the Gypsies were merely a trickle from this mighty source — a
few poor relations wandering far from home.
India also lies on the fringe of the Cathayan vampires’ sphere
of influence. The mysterious Cathayans, who call themselves
“Kuei-jin,” have fought the Ravnos for millennia over the right
to exist at the western edge of the Middle Kingdom.
The Ravnos fared poorly in the last few decades. In desperation,
they took a page from the Sabbat’s strategy book and Embraced
veritable armies of childer to hurl against the invading Cathayans.
The survivors often sired large, expendable broods of their own.
In the past five years, this process resulted in the Ravnos
siring large numbers of thin-blooded vampires… and, more
importantly, in the Final Deaths of large numbers of Cainites,
thin-blooded and otherwise.
The mere presence of hordes of thin-blooded vampires means
nothing. The elders who believe they will cause Gehenna are
deluded. Large numbers of vampire Final Deaths, however, does
hasten Gehenna. They disturb the sleep of the ancient Methu-
selahs and Antediluvians. Thin-blooded vampires die very easily,
as vampires go (yes, the Camarilla princes who think they can
forestall Gehenna by exterminating the Last Generations are
causing the very event they fear).
First, several Ravnos Methuselahs awakened, disturbed from
their cold torpor by the incessant conflicts of the vampires warring
on the surface. This helped the clan: Once the ancient vampires
slaked their thirst (admittedly, on other Ravnos vampires), they
made relatively short work of the Indian Kuei-jin.
Then, the Ravnos Antediluvian awoke, smelling the
spilled vitae… of Methuselahs. As vampires age, they must feed
upon increasingly potent blood. First, the blood of animals no
longer sustains them. After several centuries, only the vitae of
other vampires can satisfy their thirst. The true Antediluvians
are more than 10 millennia old. They passed the “Methuselah’s
Thirst” stage long ago.
Did the Antediluvian utterly devour its childer and grand-
childer, or did it merely destroy their minds, turning them into
soulless vessels of vitae with no wills of their own? It doesn’t
matter — in India, Gehenna began ahead of schedule.
The raging power of an active Antediluvian echoed around
the Earth. Worldwide, psychics, seers and lunatics felt the An-
cient awaken, even though none had any idea what was truly
happening. The Ancient plagued the dreams of everyone on
Earth, twisting them into nightmares — but some people, living
or undead, could not escape by waking up.
Other supernatural powers and principalities noticed as well
and converged on the Antediluvian. They joined battle in the
region where Ravnos India and Cathayan Indochina meet: the
floodplains of Bangladesh.
TIME OF THIN BLOOD
126
Three of the oldest and most powerful Cathayans (known
to their kind as Bodhisattvas) attacked the Antediluvian. One
of them created a hurricane as both a weapon and a defense: The
thick clouds blotted out the sunlight, allowing the vampires to
fight through the day. The Bodhisattvas also used their powers to
open rifts into strange, spiritual worlds unknown to most Western
vampires. This tactic caused a second storm, a supernatural storm
of colliding worlds. The battle echoed throughout all these worlds
— the worlds of dreams, spirits, demons and the dead.
The world’s largest and most powerful group of sorcerers
also took part in the battle. These mages use magick in the form
of technology to promote that technology and protect ordinary
humans from the menace of the supernatural. The wizards’ super-
science identified vampires as the most powerful entities in the
hellstorm, so they tried using sunlight against the Kindred and
Kuei-jin. When they could not part the clouds to reflect sun-
light onto the battle, the sorcerers brought their most powerful
weapons into the hellstorm: neutron bombs, built to project a
radiation lethal to supernatural beings. They worked. The bombs
destroyed all the supernatural creatures except the Antediluvian
itself — but the bombs and a day and night of battle with the
Bodhisattvas had weakened the Ancient enough that, when the
storm clouds parted, the reflected sunlight destroyed the ancient
Cainite in a fulfillment of God’s Biblical curse.
At that moment, most of the Ravnos in the world went mad,
driven into the clutches of the Beast by the sudden backlash of
hatred that washed through the fallen Ancient’s lineage. It would
seem that prophecy rang true — the Third Generation truly
wanted to destroy its treacherous childer. Ravnos across the globe
felt an insane, insatiable hunger for each other’s vitae. When the
murderous madness passed several nights later, very few Ravnos
remained — perhaps a hundred in all the world, with no powerful
elders. At a stroke, the Ravnos were obliterated.
STORYTELLING
THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
Storytellers might want to incorporate the Week of Night-
mare directly into their chronicles. Here’s how the various events
play out in game terms. Note that while major events happen at
night, Bangladesh time, they may happen during the American
or European day. For Europe, the time difference is three to six
hours; for most of North America, it is more than 10 hours.
Thus, midnight in Bangladesh is evening in Europe and around
midday in the US.
NIGHTS ONE AND TWO:
THE ANTEDILUVIAN WAKES
Most vampires merely feel edgy, anxious and irritable.
Nightmares trouble their sleep, but they cannot remember what
they dreamed. Seers, however, all have an episode of spontane-
ous Insight — with three extra dice on the roll to determine
its success. They may suffer Insight shock. What’s more, the
Insight trance does not stop on its own. To break free of the
trance for the rest of the night, seer characters must expend a
point of Willpower.
As always, the seers’ visions are couched in symbolism. They
perceive the Ravnos Antediluvian in the form of Ravana, the
ten-headed king of the demonic Rakshasas.
Mortals suffer from the same nightmares as vampires. Mortal
psychics, the mentally ill, sensitive children and visionary artists
must make Willpower rolls (difficulty 6) to resist falling into
a raving, nightmare trance like the seers’. They, however, see
considerably less (for mechanical purposes, assume that each
affected mortal has three dots of Insight).
NIGHT THREE: THE BATTLE BEGINS
When the three elder Cathayans attack the Ravnos An-
tediluvian, madness and chaos sweep through the supernatural
world. The battle’s effects on other supernatural races need not
be detailed: This is, after all, a Vampire supplement.
Seers continue to rave. Mortals and many vampires continue
to have nightmares. Ravnos vampires, however, “tune in” to their
ancestor and receive its overflowing power and rage.
For the duration of the battle, every Ravnos vampire gains
one to three dots of Chimerstry. If this pushes a character’s
Chimerstry rating over 5, so be it. Generational limits are waived
for the battle’s duration. The tide of rage and madness, however,
makes Ravnos Chimerstry unreliable during this time — a few of
the surviving Ravnos believe that the Antediluvian consumed
all of the mystical power for itself during the struggle. All difficul-
ties associated with Chimerstry should vary wildly on the third
night, set anywhere between 1 and 10 by the Storyteller at the
change of each scene.
Additionally, Ravnos vampires also become very likely to
frenzy. Ravnos characters receive +2 difficulty to their rolls to
resist frenzy during the third night… and with both the living and
the undead all feeling edgy, the Storyteller has ample excuses for
plenty of frenzy checks. While a Ravnos frenzies, her augmented
Chimerstry powers do not cost Willpower points.
NIGHTS FOUR THROUGH SEVEN:
FINAL DEATH AND AFTERMATH
The Antediluvian dies in the wee hours of the morning,
Bangladesh time. In Europe, the time is evening; in the US, it’s
late morning to early afternoon.
The moment the Antediluvian meets Final Death, seers and
other visionaries snap out of their trances. Ravnos vampires lose
their added dots of Chimerstry.
All Ravnos, awake or asleep, antitribu or otherwise, hear
the Antediluvian’s death-scream and feels its hunger, rage and
terror. Immediately, they feel a roaring hunger, no matter how
much blood they have in their bodies — a hunger for the vitae
of other Ravnos. In a final effort to purge the world of its childer,
the Antediluvian cursed its descendants with an overwhelming,
cannibalistic urge.
To resist this hunger and avoid frenzy, a Ravnos character
must garner 5 successes on a Self-Control (or Instinct) roll. Ravnos
APPENDIX: THE WEEK OF NIGHTMARE
127
vampires of 12th to 15th Generations have a difficulty of 8, whereas
eighth- to 11th-generation Ravnos have a difficulty of 9, and Ravnos
of seventh generation or lower have a difficulty of 10. A Ravnos
must make another hunger-frenzy check whenever she wakes up
at night or meets another Ravnos (even if she doesn’t recognize
the individual as a clanmate — the Blood calls to her).
This blood bath continues for three nights. If a Ravnos
character can survive these nights, the hunger fades as the An-
tediluvian sinks into the mire of legend.
FACING GEHENNA
Most vampires have no idea what happened during the Week
of Nightmare. They know that nightmares troubled their sleep
for several days, but they cannot remember what they dreamed
about. They might know that seers, lunatics and various “sensitive”
mortals fell into trances to rave about a mysterious battle (oddly
enough, Malkavians were not especially affected). They might
even know that the Ravnos have all but killed themselves off.
In short, most Kindred know that something big and bad
happened. Many suppose it a foretaste of Gehenna, perhaps
because vampires tend to see any disaster they can’t explain as
a portent of Gehenna.
This time, however, the doomsayers are absolutely correct.
The Antediluvians are waking up, they are as powerful and de-
structive as legends said they would be, and Gehenna has begun.
With the combined efforts of every potent force in the World
of Darkness only barely able to stem the tide of the first ripple in
this apocalyptic ocean, what will happen when all the remaining
Antediluvians rise in tandem? Indeed, how many Antediluvians
are there? When will Gehenna arrive?
Can anything stop it?
THE RED STAR
Something new has appeared in the sky of the World
of Darkness. Mere mortals cannot see it at all. To super-
natural creatures such as vampires or ghouls, it looks like a
red star — fairly bright as stars go, but easy to overlook. To
beings with at least two dots in Auspex, however, the Red
Star looks very different. It burns as brightly as Venus, thus
making it hard to miss, and a red haze or nimbus surrounds
it like the halo of a comet. Kindred who have the Oracle
Merit see it this way too; the Red Star also may appear in
Insight visions.
The Red Star has nothing to do with the Week of
Nightmares directly. Anyone who can see its halo, however,
instinctively knows that it foretells evil. The Red Star’s
hellfire glow rouses other evils from sleep. The Ravnos
Antediluvian would have awakened anyway, but the Red
Star woke it a few months sooner than otherwise.
When the Blood of Caine
Will Be Weak
The Curse of Caine has existed for so long, it has finally begun to
weaken. Elders’ blood, passed from one childe to the next for gen-
erations, no longer holds the potency it once had. Too many childer
have been Embraced in the Final Nights — and reckoning must come
for these illegitimate vampires. If it does not, the world may end.
Gehenna Will Soon
Be Upon You
The Time of Thin Blood allows players to portray the hunted childer of
high-generation vampires. In addition, the Final Nights are upon us, and
this book offers Storytellers a glimpse at one of the first events in the un-
folding Gehenna. Rich in story and character content, The Time of Thin
Blood is the first step toward the world’s ultimate demise… or salvation.
The Time of Thin
Blood includes:
• Rules for creating 14th- and 15th-generation vampires — and
their children
• A wealth of setting material that allows Storytellers to bring the
Final Nights into play
• The death of a clan!

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